Review: Tarnished City by Vic James

Review: Tarnished City by Vic JamesTarnished City by Vic James
Series: Dark Gifts #2

on January 1st 1970
Also by this author: Gilded Cage, Bright Ruin (Dark Gifts, #3)
Also in this series: Gilded Cage
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Pages: 453
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A corrupted city. A dark dream of power.

Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own.

New alliances and old feuds will remake the nation, leaving Abi and Luke questioning everything – and everyone – they know. And as Silyen Jardine hungers for the forgotten Skill of the legendary Wonder King, the country’s darkest hour approaches. Freedom and knowledge both come at a cost. So who will pay the price?

Tarnished City by Vic James is the second book in her ‘Dark Gifts’ series. (Read my review of Gilded Cage here). Gilded Cage had a spectacular ending and Tarnished City builds on that. I had so many questions after finishing it that I couldn’t wait to get into this. Since I finished Gilded Cage at the end of October, I promised myself that Tarnished City would be my reward when I completed NaNoWriMo. I won, and the next day I dove in. I finished it just as quickly as Gilded Cage, but I love it more.

The farther I got into the story, the more the true theme of the ‘Dark Gift’ series came to the surface: the dark nature of humanity. We’re twisted, we’re mad, and when we’re given the opportunity, we give in to dark pleasures. We want power over others and we would do anything to show off that power. That’s why the Skilled are in charge. They have more power and the society they built the best option there is. Or so they say.

I already suspected Tarnished City would be darker than Gilded Cage, but James blew me away. She surpassed all my expectations. Every character experiences growth, the world is alive and changing, and the actions of the characters have a significant impact on the story and world around them.

James knows how to tell a story. The writing is excellent and she knows exactly where the lines are, what readers can bear and what might be too much. She doesn’t shy away from blood and gore and uses it manipulate your feelings towards certain characters, only to change your feelings a few chapters later. She uses words to manipulate, but only as a tool to show that every character is more than the first impression they leave, or the second, or the third. A character, or person, is more than just one choice, event or encounter.

Tarnished City has earned five stars and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves dark stories and dystopian views on the world. It’s an excellent sequel to Gilded Cage and delivers. In Gilded Cage James already shows that every character has another side. Each of them have clear motivations and they’re often not how they appear. Can we get a movie or TV show of this series? Please?

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