Skip to main content

Tarnished City

Review

Tarnished City

Abigail Hadley once hoped for a better life.

She had arranged for her family to complete their Slavedays --- the required 10 years of service that all Skill-less commoners of Britain must provide --- at the estate of Kyneston, working for the Jardine family. Although Abi knew nothing of the Jardines aside from what she had seen of them in glossy magazines, she had imagined that she and her parents, brother and sister would be better off together in service to this Skilled family. The Hadleys would serve out their 10 years together, and things would be well --- or at least as well as things could be under forced servitude to people who have, and use, magical powers over nature, the political system, inanimate objects, and even the hearts and minds of the Skill-less around them.

"Readers who loved GILDED CAGE, the opening installment in Vic James’ Dark Gifts series, will devour TARNISHED CITY.... [T]here’s more ahead for Abi, Luke, the Jardines and the magical nation of Britain, and you won’t be able to put this book down."

But that was before Abi’s brother Luke was relocated to Milltown, the brutal factory city where slaves endure cruelty, hardship and abuse. That was before Abi herself became infatuated with the one member of the Jardine family who didn’t possess Skill: Jenner, the kind man who would love to have magical abilities but somehow didn’t inherit them. That was before the youngest Hadley sister, Daisy, became nursemaid and nanny to the Jardine heir Gavar’s illegitimate daughter. But most of all, that was before Luke joined a revolutionary group in Milltown whose desire and aim is to bring equality to the nation, to lift up the commoners from their lack of citizenship and slave existence. Yet how exactly does a group of people fight --- and win --- against a ruling class whose Skills make them virtually invulnerable?

A coup is attempted at a glittering party in the Kyneston ballroom --- and utterly fails, bringing tragedy to the Skilled, the commoners and the revolutionary group itself. Moreover, Luke, brought from Milltown to Kyneston, is implicated as the main assassin. But he is certain he had nothing to do with it, even as he can’t remember the event or the circumstances surrounding it. Regardless, Luke is handed over to Lord Crovan, who takes him to his castle for interrogation and imprisonment.

Abi doesn’t know how she can possibly accomplish her brother’s freedom. Yet she escapes and runs to a place where someone might actually help her --- to a Skilled couple, Bodina Matravers and Doc Jackson, who she had last seen with Luke at the Kyneston tragedy. As unlikely as it seems that the Skilled would be willing to relinquish their power to help the common people, Abi knows they are her only hope. And though one of them is broken and wounded, they formulate a plan to save Luke.

The Hadleys weren’t the only ones affected by the attempted uprising. The head of the Jardine family, Whittam, has wrested more power in the political disarray and is well on his way to reforming Britain into a Skilled dictatorship, with himself at the head. His son and heir, Gavar, has always been more interested in the next party and the newest pretty woman than he has been in preparing to lead his family politically or using his powers for anything other than the pursuit of his own pleasure. Jenner handles the administrative responsibilities of the Jardines yet wishes with all his heart that he actually had the Skill. And mysterious Silyen, the third brother, has enormous power at his fingertips…and seems to be secretly gaining more all the time.

Fractures in society are beginning to appear. Revolutionary acts are attempted…and sometimes succeed. Abi is no longer a hopeful innocent but a fierce and determined woman who is going to do all she can to bring freedom to her family and perhaps even her nation. But at what cost?

Readers who loved GILDED CAGE, the opening installment in Vic James’ Dark Gifts series, will devour TARNISHED CITY. Tragedy, suffering and the loss of hope look like the only outcomes for the Hadleys. But there’s more ahead for Abi, Luke, the Jardines and the magical nation of Britain, and you won’t be able to put this book down. Then you’ll anxiously await the third volume, BRIGHT RUIN, which is scheduled for an October 2018 release.

Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on February 23, 2018

Tarnished City
by Vic James

  • Publication Date: February 6, 2018
  • Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • ISBN-10: 0425284123
  • ISBN-13: 9780425284124