ARC Review: Bright Ruin

Bright Ruin

Title: Bright Ruin

Author: Vic James

Series: Dark Gifts, #3

Publisher: Pan

Release Date: July 26th 2018


Five Stars

A gripping Orwellian vision of Britain, with a rebellious Hunger Games heart, Bright Ruin is the third and final title in Vic James’s electrifying Dark Gifts Trilogy, following Tarnished City.

A shattered country A world-changing magic Magically gifted aristocrats rule Britain, and the people must serve them. But rebellion now strikes at the heart of the old order. Abi has escaped public execution, thanks to an unexpected ally.

Her brother Luke is on the run with Silyen Jardine, the most mysterious aristocrat of all. And as political and magical conflicts escalate, each must decide how far they’ll go for their beliefs. Dragons clash in the skies, as two powerful women duel for the soul of Britain.

A symbol of government will blaze as it dies, and doors between worlds will open—and close forever. But the battle within human hearts will be the fiercest of all.

– Blurb courtesy of

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“There’d be no more hiding, and no more running. Now was for fighting.
Lord Jardine and Bouda would subject this whole country to a Blood Fair, if they could. Britain itself, pinned down and torn at by the Equals for their sport.
Time to smash the country’s chains and set it free.”

After narrowly escaping the Blood Fair Abi is in hiding. The safest route for her is to leave England but she had her eyes open by Midsummer and the resistance and she can’t leave them behind even to save herself. Luke managed to escape from Crovan’s estate, now with Silyen and Dog he looking back to the beginning of the Equals power in England, searching for the Wonder King. Silyen believes the answer to his questions is somewhere in Luke’s mind, but the more they look the more questions they find.

Bright Ruin was one of my most anticipated releases of this year after the tense ending Tarnished City left the series on. Things slow down a little at the beginning of Bright Ruin; this book is split into three stories, showing us Abi’s path with the resistance, Luke and Silyen’s partnership to find the Wonder King, and Bouda and Lord Jardine’s political battle for control of England.

“You told my brother – Luke – that he had to hate the Equals, to beat them.”
Dog stepped right up against the gates gripping it with his unsheathed hand. His skin gleamed in the frail moonlight, his fingers scrawny as a skeleton’s.
“I hate them,” Abi said. “And I need your help to beat them.”

Midsummer believes the resistance can win through peaceful protest, but Bouda and Jardine need a formidable enemy to deliver to the people. As they try to force Abi to hand herself in Abi realises a peaceful protest is never going to work when Equals like Jardine have control over their country. Meanwhile Luke’s and Silyen’s quest takes them back to Scotland and Eilean Dochais and to a powerful Silence that has been placed over the whole of England.

There was a lot to cover in this one book and a lot to conclude in order to deliver a satisfying ending, but Vic James managed this in Bright Ruin. She built on what we’d already discovered about the world and the character development already explored and took the story places I never could have predicted. As Abi’s, Luke’s and Silyen’s, and Bouda’s and Jardine’s individual journeys are built up the answers Luke and Silyen are searching for end up shaping the intense conclusion for this book.

…The Characters

“The boy seemed to care so much. About his family, his friends – especially the late lamented Meilyr Tresco, aka Doc Jackson – and his quaint notions of freedom.
Was that some kind of commoner thing, caring so intensely?”

Luke may have started his journey in this trilogy as part of the resistance in Millmoor but he becomes part of something much bigger in Bright Ruin. There’s a connection between Luke and Silyen, one neither of them understand but which has been there ever since Silyen welcomed Luke to Kyneston. Luke is sceptical of Silyen, and doesn’t trust either him or Dog, but he makes a deal with the Equal in order to help the people he cares about.

As a character Luke has been through so much hardship and it’s shaped a lot of who he is now. He’s no longer the boy Renie found alone in Millmoor and Doc Jackson recruited but he still has a lot of the same ideals. Despite Silyen’s promise before he left Luke is very much affected by what happened to him under Crovan’s care and he wholly believes England would be better without the Slavedays, without the Equals.

“The guilt was overwhelming, and anxiety stuffed its fingers down Abi’s throat again, blocking her airways and making her gag.
Except no, dammit. This wasn’t on her, or Luke. This was on no one except the Equals.”

Abi has been betrayed by the man she thought she loved, and after what she saw Lord Jardine set into motion at the Blood Fair she can’t leave the country like Gavar suggests, not when she could do something to help. Abi is very family orientated, she worries about her parents in Millmoor, her sister under Gavar’s care, and Luke among the condemned, but she feels the best way to keep them save is to work with the resistance to bring down the Equals for good.

The growth Abi goes through in Bright Ruin was incredibly written. She realised very quickly the fight isn’t just about her and her family and starts seeing the bigger picture. At her heart Abi is a good person, but she realises she may need to do terrible things for the overall good of the country.

“She’d seen how the Jardine family worked, and how Lord Whittam crouched at the centre of it. That night at Aston House when she had gone to Jenner for help, her heart had stopped – actually stopped, who cared if that was a medical impossibility? – when she realised the boy she adored had betrayed her to his father.”

The Jardine’s aren’t close, but it was interesting watching Gavar, Jenner and Silyen move further away from their father and his ideals. Gavar’s priority is his little girl, and with no Equal gifts what his father wants isn’t the best for Libby. Jenner finally has a seat on the council, but no Equal gift and he will give anything to get one. Silyen has always been more eccentric, but in Bright Ruin we finally get some answers as to what he’s been working towards over the course of the trilogy.

…The Setting

“You’re the Wundorcyning, the Wonder King,” said the other, Silyen. And he was confident enough that it wasn’t even a question.
“Among other names. Cealdcyning. Gastcyning. Cwiccyning.”
“The Cold King. The Terrible King. The Living King.”

At this stage there’s not much to add to the world itself, instead Bright Ruin dives deeper into the past of this version of England and expands on the Equals themselves. The Wonder King Luke and Silyen are searching for is the only Equal who sat on the throne of England, and nothing is known about him other than the fact that he exists. Luke and Silyen travel into their own mindscapes and through their journey in Bright Ruin we learn more about the downfall of the non Equal monarchs and the rise of the Equals. We also learn a lot more about what Equal power is truly capable of, something many Equals now seem to have forgotten.

As the last book in the trilogy there was a lot to wrap up in Bright Ruin, I had no idea where the story was going to go or how it could all be wrapped up given the state we left everything at the end of Tarnished City. Bright Ruin has more of an open ending than a happy one, and while I was satisfied with where things ended for the characters I would love to see more from this world.

What did you think of Bright Ruin? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.


16 thoughts on “ARC Review: Bright Ruin

  1. I love, love, love this trilogy.

    Mostly because of the political aspect. I was such a fan of how Vic James gave a voice to everyone. In this dystopia the heroes don’t just fight the nameless evil with no motivation, which is just evil for the sake of being evil. We get actual point of view chapters from the other side. We get to see people who are part of the evil regime but are fighting against it, people who are part of the evil regime and aren’t too happy with it, but don’t dare to change things, and people who are part of it and love being a part of it etc. I just really enjoyed seeing the fact that everyone is a person. No one is inherently evil down to the bone, they all have families and others they care about and hopes and dreams and oh my god, I’m sorry, I’m gushing.

    I just loved this trilogy so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing right?! And yes I completely get what you mean, there are a lot of characters who have their own POV but you get more to the villains than you do in other series. You can see what they’re fighting for and in some of them you kind of understand and sympathise a little as well (at least I did in the case of Bouda, and maybe sympathise is the wrong word but I admired her drive and ambition). I remember when I first started reading the first book it was hard to tell which characters were good and which were bad, and I think in the end it became more grey than that, it was just a case of everyone being out for themselves (and in the case of Luke and Abi maybe their loved ones too).
      Don’t apologise for gushing, I loved reading your comment and I loved this trilogy too so any excuse to talk about it in more detail! 😀


  2. I feel like this author had the whole story thought up since Day 1. I mean, it feels like it was just yesterday that I heard of Tarnished City, and here we are with a review for Bright Ruin! 😛 I’m glad to hear that it was pretty amazing conclusion and that you could notice the growth of these characters. Great review! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Possibly, I mean one thing is for sure I certainly am glad I haven’t had to wait too long for the next books to be released. The cliffhangers they’ve ended on have been pretty epic. Definitely an amazing conclusion, it was more than I could have expected which is always a nice surprise.
      Thanks Lashaan! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel terrible not having read Tarnished City yet but seeing some of my bestest blogging buddies (like you) continue to show this trilogy love is all the motivation I need 💜I just went to Bookdepository & added books 2 &3 to my cart 🤗 will circle back to both your reviews which I’m sure you SLAYYYYYED! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you need to get around to Tarnished City (and of course this one) soon Lilly. Even if you didn’t enjoy the first book too much the second is so much better and this one was worth the wait too. Yay! 😀 I’m glad you’ve ordered them both and I hope you love them as well. 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh see but that’s the funny little thing about me, I really enjoyed the first one so there’s really no excuse 🙈 but I have placed my order and should be receiving them within the next couple of weeks from Bookdepository. I will definitely check back with you once I’ve read Tarnished City, I don’t know very many people who love these books as much as we do 💓

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh so in that case you really really really need to get to Tarnished City because I reckon you’ll enjoy it even more than book one! 😀 Granted I loved Gilded Cage too, but the second and third are the best of the series for sure.
        Yes please do, like you said not many people love these books and I need to talk to someone about how amazing the series is! 🙂 ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Worry not! I’m prioritizing this read when it arrives, just have to wait on the slow Bookdepository shipping 😩😂 but I have been meaning to get to it. I may just get the ebook tonight to start while I wait for my physical copy 😃

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh slow shipping is a nightmare when it’s a book you want to get started on ASAP. Hopefully you won’t have to wait too long, but yeah I’ve done the whole buy an eBook version while I wait for my physical copy to arrive thing. Sometimes it’s the only way. 🙂


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