Book: Tarnished City (Dark Gifts 2) by Vic James
Release Date: September 7th 2017
Tags: Young Adult / Fantasy / Dystopian / Trigger Warnings / On the Page and Off the Page Suicide / Murder / Hangings
Other books in this series I reviewed
Possible spoilers for the previous books in the series
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?
I finally picked up Tarnished City. I read the first book, Gilded Cage, last year and really liked it, and got the second book as soon as it came out. However I then hesitated to pick it up. I was scared it might not live up to the first book or that I was going to get my heart broken. It had a bit of the first and a lot of the second. But I couldn’t rate this book any lower than 4 stars because when it came down to it, I had to keep reading.
Tarnished City starts right after the end of Gilded Cage. Luke is being send for condemnation while Abby is running away from her family and slave days to find a way to save him from that future. Silyen in the mean time is scheming, Bouda is manipulating while Gavar is just stewing. I think that might be an accurate summary for you. The first three quarter of this book is incredibly slow paced when it comes to the action. If I didn’t love the characters so much I might have complained about it.
But we drive a little deeper into some of these characters. Silyen is slowly sharing more about his motivations and skill. What he exactly wants isn’t quite so clear but we get more idea of how skill works through him. Abbi is learning more about how the world really works outside of her own little bubble. Bouda’s character development isn’t exactly a positive thing. Her hunger for power leads to the death of someone near her and yet she still won’t let go. I had no love for her in the first book but am close to hating her. Even so she does give us insight on the other side of this battle.
The biggest part of this book focuses on setting up the peaceful and later a bit more violence protests against the slave days. I don’t feel this part of the story shines through as much as the author would have liked. We get a lot of talk about it but the characters we follow are all on the side lines. They aren’t in the thick of it like Luke was in the first book. The same goes for smothering the protests. A lot of talk about doing it but it almost all happens off the page. I think that is for sure one of the weakest aspects of this book.
But turning away from that, this book does turn things quite a bit darker. There are deaths, betrayals. And the questions of morality. If someone hurt someone, do they deserve to get the same treatment over and over again or does that make us just like that person? If you possess something that someone else doesn’t, does that really make you better than that person? Or does being a morality knight make you better than another person? At the end the council also makes decisions that are gruesome and the responses of the people aren’t exactly encouraging either. I think this is what will remind people of current events as well.
So this second book isn’t perfect, actually rather flawed in places yet it gets you thinking. It isn’t the easiest read on the emotions. And yet I found myself struggling to put it down. I love some of these characters like Silyen and Gavar.