cover image Tarnished City

Tarnished City

Vic James. Del Rey, $25 (416p) ISBN 978-0-425-28412-4

In the tangled second Dark Gifts urban fantasy (after Gilded Cage), rebels in an alternate 21st-century England struggle to regroup after being blamed for assassinating the political leader of England’s “Equals,” magically skilled aristocrats. Equals wield enormous power and influence, forcing the “Skilless” into brutal servitude. Abi Hadley’s brother, Luke, was framed for the murder of Parliament’s Chancellor Zelston. She and her parents are sentenced to live in Millmoor, one of the country’s worst slavetowns. Fortunately, Abi finds sanctuary with a young Equal who supports the rebellion. Meanwhile, Luke is condemned to the pitiless custody of Lord Arailt Crovan at his remote Scottish estate. While Luke fights to keep his humanity, Abi plots to rescue him, and political intrigue challenges both rebel and Equal plans. With a wealth of dense backstory, this isn’t a good entry point for new readers, but series fans will appreciate the multifaceted complexity of James’s world and its lively, determined characters. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (Feb.)