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Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe – ARC Review!

The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the magic on the island and the spirits who inhabit it. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. Now that she’s eighteen, Mae knows her time with the Prospers may soon come to an end.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends return to the island to celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionised the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.

When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae starts to realise that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past that she doesn’t remember. As Mae and her friends begin to unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mae has lived her whole life on Prosper Island. Ever since the death of her father the Prosper’s have looked after her, that is until she comes to age which just happens to be this year. She’s desperate to stay with the Prosper’s on their Island filled with Magic, but everything comes at a price. To stay, Mae has to marry one of the Prosper sons, which would be fine except it’s not the one shes in love with. To add to the drama, the spirits that live on the island have started getting ill and dying, with no reason why. But tonight isn’t the night for these thoughts, tonight is First Night, when the Prospers invite all their friends to celebrate Lord Prosper first harnessing the magic of the Island. First Night always ends with a bang but nobody, least of all Mae, is prepared for the explosive end to this one.

Ok, so if you checked out my WWW Wednesday post yesterday you’ll know this book wasn’t a hit with me and one of the reasons why was the characters. Mae herself was brilliant, sheltered and incredibly naive having only the Island and the Prospers who inhabit it to give her any life experience. She doesn’t make the best decisions, but when the shit hits the fan she really comes into her own and realises that she’s been treated badly her whole life. Her journey took a while and there were a few back and forths which I found slightly annoying, but in the end she just stopped being walked all over and decided to make her own decisions.

The Prospers on the other hand were just a bunch of dicks. I mean this seriously, there wasn’t one good one in the bunch, although the author tried her hardest to give them some semblance of a redemption arc. They treated Mae like literal shit, some would pretend to be her friend whilst never really meaning it, and others would treat her no better than an invisible servant. They were physically and emotionally abusive, and I thought they all got off a little too easy.

I loved how the story was told over one night, It added a pace and flow to the story that made it near impossible to put down. The short time frame made sure the stakes to this story were incredibly high, and added a depth to the tension and drama of the story. Cohoe’s descriptive writing really helps drag you into the story and onto Prosper Island, it’s both creepy and beautiful in equal measure. The magic system was… lacking. I never really got my head around it at all. How did Lord Prosper get control over the spirits if he had no magic to begin with? How did they mine the power for mainland use? What exactly did the power do? There were just too many unanswered questions and it played such a large part in the story that they really shouldn’t have gone unanswered.

The romance was just, pretty bad. There was a love triangle where both ‘suitors’ were just dicks. Both using Mae for their own gain, though she couldn’t really see it at the time, and when she did only seemed bothered by one of them. Cohoe does effectively use plot twists throughout the book, some predictable but not in a bad way. The main problem was the ‘big’ twist was based around the magic and because I didn’t understand it, it didn’t have the emotional hit I think the author was going for.

Overall, this book was saved by Cohoe’s writing style and the overall pace of the story. Had it been a bit slower I think I would have DNF’d it. Filled with some truly unlikable characters, and not in a good way, with an under developed magic system and an MC that should have just left the rest of the characters to burn.

1 reply »

  1. I must admit that Cohoe is one my favorite contemporary authors! I loved Bright Ruined Things for the complex characters and the unique world, and I loved her previous work A Golden Fury. Cohoe is on my must-read authors list, so I’m hoping for a new book! I understand your point about all the characters in Bright Ruined Things being horrible, though. Even the protagonist’s “friends” treated her shabbily.

    Liked by 1 person

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