Monday, 6 August 2018

Bright Ruin

Bright Ruin is the final instalment in the Dark Gifts trilogy and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous books. If you'd like an idea of what they are about, read my review of Gilded Cage or this interview with Vic James.

Fear was the superpower they all possessed.

After the Blood Fair, Luke is fleeing the capital with Silyen and Abi is hiding out with Gavar, Daisy and Libby. The fates of the Hadleys and Jardines are forever entangled and the future of Britain, for better or worse, is in their hands. Will the privileged Equals squash the rebellion for good or can a compromise be made? Will enough bad people die so the sort-of-good people can be left in charge?

Things are escalating. The fact that the official hashtag was #dontkillmyfave gives you a hint of how brutal this series can be, with plenty of surprising deaths. If you've been wondering why the Skilled weren't in charge of Britain all along, you will find answers too.

I loved the trio of Silyen, Luke and Dog in this final instalment. Silyen's character arc across the trilogy is fantastic. You start off thinking he's cruel and only interested in experiments with Skill, and slowly you find out he's been trying to get the bottom of something he did by accident as a child. He doesn't have much time for the political manoeuvrings of his family, and he shows kindness that I think was more than just convenience, although he always has that excuse.

I wasn't that keen on Luke at the start but his relationship with Silyen is one of the high points of the final book. The flirting, the denial, the looks. I think the very end is left open to interpretation but I know what I have decided.

You learned in school about countries that went backwards. Peaceful nations that flared up in civil war. Democracies that fell under the sway of fanatics. You never imagined such a thing might happen here in Britain. But it could.

Even Dog turns out to be not that bad, he reminds me a little of Game of Throne's The Hound, which might be the inspiration. Gavar's forced by his family to infiltrate the resistance, and you never quite know where his loyalties lie, except for his love for his baseborn daughter who he so desperately wants to protect from his toxic family.

The villains are suitably villainous. Whittam is just horrible and it explains a lot what is revealed about him at the end. It also explains some things about other characters which might otherwise be unforgivable. You find out how nasty and petty Corvan really is (beyond the torture that is). Bouda is never good but she does sometimes seem the best of a bad bunch, like she might just be open to reform if Whittam is removed from her path.

What an ending! I wasn't expecting, to be honest I had no idea how this would be resolved but I think it's the only way it could have worked. At least to leave us happy that change had happened. There were gasps a plenty on the journey and I'd thoroughly recommend this trilogy to anyone a bit bored of the usual urban fantasy fare.

Bright Ruin is published by Pan Macmillan and is out now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Science Fiction vs Fantasy Bingo: Rebellion

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

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