Tarnished City (Dark Gifts: Book 2) by Vic James

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts, #2)

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Del Ray

Date of publication: February 6th, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Number of pages: 416

Series: Dark Gifts

Gilded Cage – Book 1 (review here)

Tarnished City – Book 2

Bright Ruin – Book 3 (no expected publication date)

Where you can find Tarnished City: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

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? 

Trigger Warning: reference to rape

My review:

I was a huge fan of Gilded Cage when I read it. So when I saw that Tarnished City was up for review, I jumped at the chance to get it. I am so glad I did because Tarnished City exceeded my expectations for it. To be honest, I was expecting the sophomore slump, which is very common. Usually, 2nd books in a trilogy or series fall way short of book 1. I have read series where book 1 was fantastic and book 2 sucked. This isn’t the case with Tarnished City. The author keeps the same sense of urgency throughout the entire book. Not an easy feat but it was done.

Tarnished City starts off shortly after the end of events of Gilded Cage. Luke has been accused of murder. He is going with a man who is notorious for torturing and killing the criminals kept at his island estate. Luke’s only solace is that his sisters and parents were spared the same fate as he was. He also finds out that he has an unlikely ally in the Jardine’s youngest son, Silyen. Silyen knows not only what happened but he knows that Luke is innocent. Promising not to let Crovan hurt him, Luke is sent to Crovan’s island. Abi escaped from the transport that was taking her mother, father and herself to a slavetown. Reaching Luke’s band of rebels, she falls in with them. She needs them to find a way to free Luke from Crovan. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, Abi is sucked into the same revolution that got Luke imprisoned.

On the Skilled end, there were a ton of things happening. Silyen discovers something very important about one of his ancestors and about himself. He realizes that he might have done something that compromised Jenner’s use of Skill. His research and experimentation have some surprising results. Gavar is bullied into marrying someone he doesn’t love.  Pressure by his father threatens to undo Gavar. Jenner is dealing with his own issues. He loves Abi but is that love enough? Bouda, Gavar’s wife, has discovered that there is more to her Skill than what she thought. She also realizes that the only way to get ahead is to form an alliance with her father in law.

I enjoyed seeing the progression of the characters. What I also liked is that characters straddled the line between good and evil. There were definitely gray areas that made me go “hmm” when I read them. I also liked that I got the feeling that the characters’ were barely tapped into. That we were only seeing the first few layers of their characters. It made me excited to see where these characters will go in book 3.

The relationships in Tarnished City were screwed up. Actually, the relationships between the Equals were screwed up. I couldn’t believe how much backstabbing and double-crossing was going on. There was a hint of it in the earlier book but it blew up in Tarnished City. I also liked that you couldn’t count on the relationships being rock solid. There were a couple of times where I was shocked over events that had taken place in the book.

The end of the book was one of the best endings that I have ever read. I was in shock over what happened at the Blood Fair. Those were some very gruesome scenes that portrayed what mob mentality could do. I liked that the one character I thought I had pegged ended up doing something heroic. I also liked that none of the plotlines were resolved. There was a huge twist in a relationship that I didn’t see coming. All that made me very excited to read book 3 when it comes out.

Tarnished City was a great read. The plotlines were fantastic. I got vested in the characters lives. I would recommend that this book is for adults only. There is a reference to rape and there are sexual situations. Also, there is violence and language. This is a book that is not stand alone. You need to read book 1 to understand the events in Tarnished City. Saying that I would recommend this to family and friends with a suggestion that they read Gilded Cage first. This is also a book that I plan on rereading.

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group, Del Ray, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Tarnished City.

All opinions stated in this review of Tarnished City are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

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