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?
My review of Tainted City
Tainted City is a very, very dark sequel to Gilded Cage.
I keep seeing this marked as young adult but with the levels of cruelty, abuse and torture carried out by the magic-wielding Equals I don’t see how it can be. It really should have an 18 certificate!
Luke has been sent to Lord Crovan’s Scottish estate as a condemned, a prisoner, for the crime is he believed to have committed. Lord Crovan is renowned for the experiments he carries out on his prisoner and the sadistic way he treats them. When Luke arrives the level of cruelty he encounters is extreme. Prisoners live in fear, of each other as much of Lord Crovan.
Abi ran away instead of allowing herself to be taken to a slave town. She intends to save her brother from Lord Crovan and allies herself with Luke’s revolutionary friends.
Silyen is gaining power and investigating how skill works. His motives beyond becoming strong in the skill are unknown, he helps Luke sometimes but it seems like it’s only because helping Luke helps himself reach his own goals. He’s one to keep an eye on! I like his viewpoint because he shows more of the magic that is a mystery even to the equals. He wants to know why they were capable of great feats in the past but now they can only use it to simply make life a bit easier.
There is a lot of character growth in this book. Both Abi and Luke have had their eyes opened to the ways of their world and are no longer the naive teenagers from before they started their slave days. Gravan for me is the most interesting character. He started out lazy and uncaring but as he sees how cruel his family is to those without the skill he becomes more and more sickened by it.
Surprises just keep coming from all around, just when you think you know a character they go and show you a different side of themselves. None of them can be seen as all good or all bad.
There are so many different viewpoints though, and so many characters and names being thrown about that I found it hard to keep track of everyone. It’s a fast-paced book but there’s also a lot of talking and a lot of the characters thinking about events and I just couldn’t hold it all in my head.
The politics and the scheming are still overly simplistic. How does Whittam Jardine just take over parliament? It all seems too easy.
I also didn’t like the way it seems to support terrorism, with Abi and her allies burning farms and bombing buildings in London. They do it without question as to whether it’s the morally right thing to do or whether terrorism can ever be justified. I find it irresponsible to not consider this, especially for a young adult book. The Hunger Games covers similar issues but with a lot more attention to the morals.
I like the general idea of the story and I would like to see where it goes but for me, there were just too many people to keep track of, and the terrorism and the endless and sick abuse portrayed throughout made me not enjoy reading this. I found it bleak and a bit depressing and I finished it because I felt that I had to not because I really wanted to.
I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.