Review: Bright Ruin – Vic James

Review: Bright Ruin – Vic JamesBright Ruin (Dark Gifts, #3) by Vic James
Series: Dark Gifts #3

Published by Pan Macmillan on July 26th 2018
Also by this author: Gilded Cage, Tarnished City
Also in this series: Gilded Cage, Tarnished City
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 484
Format: paperback

Magically gifted aristocrats rule--and commoners are doomed to serve. But a rebellion threatens the old order. The dystopian trilogy that began with Gilded Cage and Tarnished City concludes.

In a world where the lower classes must endure ten years of forced service to unfairly advantaged, magically powered rulers, a teenage boy dreams of rebellion, his older sister yearns for love and knowledge, and a dangerous young aristocrat seeks to remake the world with his dark gifts. In Bright Ruin, the final book in the trilogy set in modern-day England, our heroes will lead a revolution that will transform--or destroy--the world.

Bright Ruin is the third and last book in the Dark Gifts series by Vic James. Gilded Cage and Tarnished City are the first and second book, and if you haven’t read them, there might be spoilers in this review for events that happened in those two.

My experiences with Bright Ruin didn’t start when the mailman dropped off my preordered copy on the 26th of July, but a few months earlier when Victoria James posted the first page of the table of contents.

Silyen is the last narrator on the page and Victoria’s caption made me fear that he wouldn’t live past that. The first thing I did when I got the copy was to see if there was another chapter of Silyen, but…. Sigh. Tarnished City taught me that Victoria is ruthless and will kill characters, good and bad ones. I fully expected there would be more casualties in Bright Ruin. By page 430 I thought not nearly enough characters had died. As if she had heard me, the kill count went up in the last few chapters.

Victoria tweeted another thing that set my imagination on fire: the cover of the US version.

I have the UK versions which are plain and with cages. Nothing that would spoil the story. This US cover is saying more than the summary. Silyen’s hand with golden vines and London set on fire. Silyen’s role will be even bigger in the events to come, and it’s nothing like you’d expect. After finishing the book, I just had to take a moment and think about what I had read.

The previous book ended with the Blood Fair, one of the most gruesome events in Britain’s history. It was the high light of the show, emphasizing the dark nature of humanity, and it’s also where Bright Ruin continues. A few big players have to face the consequences. I’d say ‘change’ is the biggest theme now. People change, allies change, plans change. People are fighting for change, breaking through the status quo. It doesn’t only show the dark side of humans, but also that there is hope, even when everything seems so terribly dark.

The story itself is very well done, just like the other two. The points of view are well chosen for each event. It’s also the perfect way to create a cliffhanger and switch to a different place. This is what keeps you reading. I loved the build-up to the climactic event, but what happened after is still on my mind. Victoria planted seeds throughout the books and only hinted at what could have happened. I’m hoping for it anyway. That’s all I can say without spoiling too much.

The Dark Gifts series is a wonderful exhibition of character growth. In the beginning, each character has a clear vision of their future, but none of them ends up with what they wanted back then. That’s perfectly fine. It would be weird to give characters the ending they wish for in a dystopian novel. What makes this series so strong is that each character deals with the events in their own unique way. You see how they change their mindset, their values, and wishes and even do things they never thought they would do. These changes are subtle and spread out over three books. I hated characters in Gilded Cage but loved them in Bright Ruin. Some I hated even more than before.

Victoria James is truly a master of the art and her story compelling. It’s probably not a surprise that I rated Bright Ruin with five stars and the series as a whole is highly recommended to anyone who reads YA and/or dystopian. I’m definitely rereading these soon with a more analytical approach to learn more about character development.

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