Book Review: BRIGHT RUIN by Vic James

Title in black on red with an escaped bird from a cage
Genre: Dystopia
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - final book of trilogy


Book cover for BRIGHT CITY: title in black on red above a bird escaping a cage

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. 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


BRIGHT RUIN finishes up a trilogy I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d like when I started it. It’s a dystopian released after the end of the dystopian YA craze, but with a blurb that sounded like it’d fit right in. However, I’ve really enjoyed reading this series.

If you like RED QUEEN, but like the idea of the hero/s not being abnormally gifted commoners and with more focus on achieving goals without it ultimately coming down to a magical punch up (try for change through less destructive means, but still causing an impact), then this is a series for you.

This book is the most fantasy leaning of the lot as Luke and Silyen go on a hunt for answers about magic – and end up with a lot more questions. It sort of plays into the ending, but a lot of what comes out in the reveal is left hanging, not involved – as if space was being left open for more books.

The big magic reveal is told from a new POV who only turns up for those two chapters – and then never returns again, not even in a cameo role elsewhere. It was a little odd, and it felt like it might have had more impact coming from Silyen or Luke as they reacted to the information.

There’s a lot of double crossing and betrayals in this book, as moles pass information around and loyalties are questioned. The showcase of skill is a lot of fun to finally see, as it’s been in the background before.

The ending is one I’m sure readers are torn over. I liked the ambiguity in the epilogue, how it didn’t quite wipe the cost of the uprising away with happiness, because it’s not sure exactly what’s happened. There’s enough to imagine it’s gone well. It fits the series tone so well. It’s also realistic about it not being a smooth or glorious transition to a utopia, but acknowledges that the people with power are going to do everything in their power to find a new way to hold onto it.

Read my reviews of other books by Vic James:

Dark Gifts (this series):

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