Tarnished City by James Vic

tarnished city

4 out of 5 stars.

I received an ARC of this work.

This review will contain spoilers for the first book, the Gilded Cage.

This book is just as good as the first in the series, which is fantastic since so many series have a notedly not very strong second book. This one reads very well.

The rebellion fomenting against the skilled upper class is growing and all of the main characters are connected to it in some way or another. Luke, placed in a slave camp, is a member helping with regular protests. His sisters Abi and Daisy are slaves in the manor house of one of the old ruling families where one of the sons (Gavar) has been tasked with squashing the rebellion. The eldest brother of the family has unparalleled powers and his goals and alliances are completely unknown, and the youngest is definitely sympathetic to the unskilled, but since he has no powers, he does not count for anything. The father of the noble family wants complete power, but so does Gavar’s fiancĂ©.

The whole plot is a web of alliances and interests that it is difficult to find in other YA books. Most books for teens tend towards simplified plots with clear and straightforward lines, keeping the twists and turns down to one or two large ones at the end. To find the intricacy that this book offers you usually have to go to adult fantasy or science fiction, like Game of Thrones. I loved what it offers young readers in terms of complexity.

The family is thrown back together, which means the relationships grow and change. The characters evolve in ways that does not always happen in YA fantasy and I love how familial relationships are emphasized in these books. It is not just romance. It is parent and child, father and nanny, brother and sister. The characters are complex and their motives get explored well.

While not revealing too much of the plot, this was a great and solid addition to the series. We get to know the characters even better and start to question some of the stuff about them that we learned in the first book. Definitely read this.