Book Review: Tarnished City by Vic James

Book Review (7)


Tarnished City by Vic James

Publisher: Pan

Publication date: 07 September 2017

Genre: Young adult fantasy

Page count: 464 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free for Tarnished City, but contains major spoilers for Gilded Cage.  You can read my review of the first book here.


I recently read Gilded Cage and while I wasn’t hugely impressed by the beginning, the story really picked up and it had an incredible ending. I had a feeling that the plot would continue to stay strong through the sequel, and I was right. Tarnished City is a thrilling, fast-paced read that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end. It continues to build upon the interesting concept of the first book and remains one of the most brutal YA fantasy books out there.

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 find reviewing sequels really difficult, so I’m going to keep this short.  It took me a little while to fall back into this world, but I ended up fully immersed and really enjoyed the ride.  While it’s strange to read about a modern Britain with a fantasy twist, I really enjoy the world building in these novels. James continues to expand on the world and we get to see more than just Kyneston.  From Scotland to London, James shows us the broader picture and implications of the slavedays and I really appreciated it. Alongside this, we get a little more detail about what the laws around slavedays are (I, for one, was wondering why people don’t just delay indefinitely and just don’t do them).  James skillfully presents a more full picture of life in her version of Britain, which makes the story much stronger.

I won’t say much about the characters, but everyone grows and changes over the course of this book.  My favourites from the first book don’t match up against my favourites from the sequel, which is unusual for me.  Some characters took me by surprise, some with delight and some with horror, but no one was boring. Even Abi, who was so dull in the first book, begins to show some spirit.  We spend plenty of time with old favourites, but are introduced to a handful of new characters that are just as interesting and compelling as our original cast.

If you liked Gilded Cage, you’re going to love Tarnished City.  From satisfying moments to deeply infuriating ones, this book will keep you on your toes, and sets up quite an explosive ending in Bright Ruin.


Want to read Tarnished City?  You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):

Amazon | Book Depository | Blackwells


Have you read Tarnished City?  What about Gilded Cage?  What did you think?  Let me know!

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