Monday, 9 October 2017

Review: Tarnished City

Tarnished City
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

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 have been anticipating this sequel and it's finally arrived and it's bloody brilliant. Genuinely. Jenner's prologue throws us straight back in to the thick of things as we go back to the night everything went down! It's an incredibly roller coaster right from the start! If you follow me on Twitter you probably saw my Twitter thread as I was reading! I had to take little breaks to GIF it out because of the feels! 

Jenner undergoes quite the change in this book. I was kinda ambivalent about him in the first book. I felt for the dude and he was just kind of there. I believe my words where "he needs a backbone because being nice in the world of the Equals won't be a good thing". In this book? I ate my words. He gets a little bit of an attitude. He gets sassy and he has some fight in him which was nice to see. I was hoping he'd grow some balls and lo and behold...he did. Can confirm Jenner has some balls. Unfortunately I reached a point in the book when I was like "TAKE THEM BACK VIC TAKE THEM BACK" because the nice one goes full dark side. I swore. Loudly. Even Silyen isn't quite on Jenner's level, nor is Gavar which says a lot. I want to hate Jenner, but I honestly do get where he's coming from and why he's doing what he's doing. He's still a douche but you can understand his thought process. Vic writes characters that aren't black and white, they exist in grey areas and Jenner in this book is a prime example, as are his brothers. 

Moving on to Silyen. Deep inside Silyen...way, way deep inside is a good guy, waiting to get out. You see little glimpses of it and you're rooting for him like C'mon Silyen, do the thing! He's like a butterfly encased in a cacoon of asshole, trying to get out. I spent a lot of this book trying to work out who's team Silyen is on but he makes it so hard. He's clearly out for himself, but I can't decide if his actions are going to end up being a good or bad thing for the other characters. Silyen is so intelligent and there are a million schemes he could be running, Gavar even points one out. Like I was all "Oh. It's okay, Silyen's on Team Good!" and Gavar was like "oh honey no....". There's a couple of revelations in this book that do make it harder to like him, like what he did to Gavar. What he did to Jenner isn't really his fault. But then in other parts of the book, he's trying to solve a family mystery and I just don't think he's inherently bad, I just can't work out what his angle is. He's snarktacular either way and I do love him because he makes me chuckle almost as much as I want to throttle him! It's hard to take him seriously as a bad guy when he's creeping around in a hoodie sneaking up on people. I'm still waiting for that one thing that makes me go "YES SILYEN! Good boy!" Buuuttt I'm getting this really odd vibe from him in this book. It might just be me, but some of the things going on with him in this book, give me this old sage vibe when it comes to Silyen. Like he's going to know all of this cool stuff and be the all knowing one, kind of thing. Hopefully. But it's whether or not that's going to be a good or bad thing. Sometimes I feel like he play acts at being a meanie. WHY ARE YOU SO COMPLICATED SILYEN, I JUST WANT TO LOVE YOU! 

Next we have my precious little Gavar. He's a bit more out of his asshole cocoon than Silyen, but he's not quite a blossoming butterfly yet. I'd been assured before starting this book that I'd finally have reasons to love him so I was super excited to see how his character was going to develop! Last book I felt like he wasn't as bad as he seemed despite evidence to the contrary. This book he proved that. He truly cares about his daughter, and is willing to defend her against his family and everyone else. We get a lot more insight in to him in this book, and I had the feeling someone did something to him that made the whole Leah thing happen and it turns out I wasn't wrong. That's literally the only time throughout two books I've been right about something so I was super stoked! Gavar really comes in to his own in this book, you see his thoughts and what he thinks and it's more along the right lines than his families. He understands how to improve things for the commoners and make things better but he won't be listened to. He can see what needs to be done basically. He goes full Dracary's but without the assistance of a dragon at one point, I was like 'you go Gavar!'. He's also got his sassy pants on, there where so many times I want to applaud him. Gavar finally does some things this book that really make me love him, and I'm excited to see how much he can develop over the course of the final book. In book one I wanted to like him and I could see he was on his way towards that, and this book allows me to love him without feeling guilty. He does have an interesting situation, with what Silyen has done Gavar is going to have his own struggles and it's going to be interesting to see what's going to happen to him! He is my favourite of this book, and him in the final scene was damn near cinematic and badass! I lowkey ship him and Abi on the strength of that scene too, FIGHT ME. 

In the first book, both Gavar and Silyen while doing bad had to wonder about them. They're two of the characters that where most existing in that grey area of being neither inherently bad or good. They thought they where doing the right thing, it was all about the nuance of the scene. Gavar moves in one direction, but Silyen stays in this in-between place, and Jenner has joined him...although I think he's leaning more towards the bad side to be honest, but like I said...I can see why he does what he does. 

Luke is thrown in to a more desperate situation, and quite frankly it's one of the most chilling. He doesn't lose his fight, he's determined to keep on top of things and not to give up, but his POV is just so chilling because of what goes on with him. We know what the Equals can do and in this POV, we explore the mental aspects of that. Luke is having his brain messed with and it's so brilliantly written it sends a shiver up your spine. 

Abi I'm loving in this book, she really comes in to her own and comes out of her shell...or out from behind the book! She's determined to save her brother, and get some answers and she does whatever it takes to find Meilyer and the others. But she doesn't stop there, she becomes a lot more daring in this book and it was nice to see, I was hoping her character would go in this direction a bit more and I was cheering for her! She masterminds a plot or two of her own as well and I was cheering for her so much! She's just become such a lively character compared to book one! It was nice to see this change in her and I can't wait to see what she's going to do in the next book, she's changed a lot over the course of this book and it's so brilliant! 

A lot of ur other favourite characters are back, Meilyer who I wasn't sure how to feel about in this book after the last one. He's changed a lot after last book and he was one of the 'grey area' characters to me until the truth came out pretty swiftly. Badass Bodina makes her return and I empathised with her so much in this book, she never stopped fighting no matter what happened. Renie and the rest of the club are back although we don't see all that much of them, we do get a lot of Renie which was nice! She and Abi make quite the team! Dog pops up...he's so creepy and he's Silyen's new BFF which is a questionable decision if you ask me. 

The dislikable characters are back in force and I really didn't think I could hate Papa Jardine more than I did before, but this book proved that I can. My hatred for him knows no bounds and I'm not Bouda's biggest fan either. I get her. I understand what she wants, and it's even pretty admirable...if she wasn't going to screw over all the commoners to get to it. I would even admire her determination if I didn't dislike her so much. She earned her place on my hate list in this book and that's all I'm going to say! As for Jon...I can't for the life of me work out if he's an ally or not. We get some interesting information on him, but I really can't work out if he's playing Abi and co or if he's playing Bouda, it's brilliantly done! Vic keeps you guessing but without it being tiresome, every time you decide one way something happens to make you go hmmmm and change your mind again!

Along with our old faces, we get some brilliant new characters in this book that I'm excited to see more of! Midsummer in particular is one of my new favourites! I liked her immediately, I'm not going to lie and that was on the strength of her giving Gavar some side eye. I'm so hoping for a load more of her in the next book because she has such a badass scene! We also have Coira who I'm so intrigued by! She's quite fiery too, I so badly want to know what her past is! I'm hoping she'll have a part to play in the next book!

Vic continues to create brilliant characters, they make you feel the full range of emotions, there's some you flat out hate, some you flat out love, and then there's the grey area characters I keep talking about that are neither. They're somewhere in between, some of them are leaning more one way than the other, but Vic really creates and explores her characters personalities brilliantly. As well as exploring human nature a bit in this book too. 

The multi POV's continue, we mostly get Abi and Luke much like last book, but we get quite a bit of Gavar, and Silyen too as well as Bouda. So we get the POV from all angles, and we can see what's going on with each faction as it where. Which is so necessary in a book like this with such an intricate plot and so much going on. You can see the two factions kind of racing each other as you see what one's doing to counter the other and it really keeps the pace moving forward and still doesn't give too much away either so it keeps you guessing! It also helps flesh out the characters and the world so much! 

I really do love the mashup of old and new in this book, it's such a unique and original world. There's the more old fashioned aspects at some of the estates, mixed in with modern things like phones and so on. This book has ensured I'll never be able to look at Trafalgar Square the same way again, I'm not going to lie! Vic takes our world and has subtly altered the history, tweaking and changing things, so it's recognisably our world...but it's not. But it's also vivid and believable. The first book was mostly contained to the estate and to the slave town and this book lets us venture further out. Not just to other places like Scotland, but we get to see London and some other locations too. Buuutt the coolest thing is seeing how the country at large reacts to the Equals, and there's a real celebrity air about them, the Jardines are almost like the Royal family at one point. I was picturing some of the big well known images of the Royal family for certain scenes. Or perhaps a certain President. Just saaaayin. 

Another thing I loved about this book? All the history to the world of the book. I'm so fascinated about it and in this book we get a tonne more and I was loving it! History has been tweaked so damn brilliantly. We learn what happened with Napoleon and some more of the Jardine history and what the worlds currently like and what the political climate is like. But then we get hit with some of the more grisly history to the world and go further back. There's an incredibly horrifying old tradition that quite frankly was sickening and to be honest, it was all too easy to picture the final scene of the book. 

Vic writes the Equals perfectly, it's so chilling reading about what they can do and seeing their power in action. And they're getting stronger. It's brutal and it makes you shudder at the thought. I love that Vic doesn't shy away from writing the darker parts, it's part of what draws you in and gets you invested. Your on Abi and Luke's side because of it, and it has such an impact on you as you're reading, you can't help but respond to it because it's so vividly written. You can see it all happening, and thanks to the brutal detail it's all too easy to imagine how you'd feel. Add in the way a lot of the characters are written, neither being good nor bad and it makes for such a fascinating read. Things and people change over the course of the book, flowing with what happens and influences them. 

The writing is brilliant. It draws you in to the story, the world building is fantastic and carries on in this book building up more and more of the world with more history and more detail. The storytelling  is aided by the beautiful and chilling descriptions. "Like golden wounds in the black hide of the castle, dripping fiery blood". I love the writing. It's so perfect for the book, and the atmosphere and the visual Vic's going for. It all combines to give you this image and atmosphere. 

I was hooked to the page right from the start, the pace is fantastic, and there's so many plot twists and turns and betrayals that I didn't see coming. Tarnished City is a true rollercoaster ride right from page one. The stakes are getting higher and higher, and things are getting darker and taking a more vicious and chilling turn as the plot builds up more and more, towards the grand finale that is book three. Touches are being added here and there to build up the plot more and more. I had like 50 pages left and no idea who to trust, because Vic keeps you guessing and guessing. There's some truly shocking developments in this book and a spectacular final scene. Vivid from the start, the final scene was truly epically cinematic. I'm so excited for book three despite the pain it'll no doubt induce! 

Tarnished City is all round brilliantly written and plotted. It's darker, bloodier, sinister and way more chilling than the previous book. The politics are sinister and aren't entirely irrelevant in today's society. The characters are fantastically brought to life and so very human, clinging to the little hope they have. The ending had me full out cheering (silently) at 2 in the morning and I finished the book absolutely knackered from the whirlwind it took me on, this is truly one of my favourite series! 

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely fantastic review! I love this series.
    Cora ❤


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