Revealing the US and UK Editions of Vic James’ Tarnished City

We’re pleased to share the covers for Tarnished City, book two in Vic James’ Dark Gifts trilogy! The captivating dystopian trilogy that began with Gilded Cage continues in this second novel filled with magic, intrigue, and upstairs/downstairs drama in the vein of Downton Abbey. Below, author Vic James shares her thoughts on what makes each cover unique, plus drops hints at what’s in store for for Tarnished City, and beyond…

Vic James’ Dark Gifts trilogy publishes with Tor Books in the UK market, and with Del Rey in the US. Book one, Gilded Cage, is available January 26th in the UK and February 14th in the US—read an excerpt here. Its sequel, Tarnished City, publishes this July in the UK and hits shelves this September in the US.

Tor Books UK cover designed by Jo Thompson


Del Rey cover designed by

Del Rey cover designed by David Stevenson



I’m asked all the time if I prefer my US or UK covers, and I’m so happy to reply that I couldn’t pick between them. The British ones by Jo Thompson have a sparse, truly iconic boldness that makes them stand out in even the most crowded bookstore. The US ones by David Stevenson combine eye-catching metallics with elegant detailing, to capture the alluring menace of the world of the series. It’s so exciting to see the progression of their ideas in the covers for Gilded Cage’s sequel, Tarnished City.

Just as Gilded Cage’s designs both used gold, you’ll see that the two for Tarnished City use copper. For the lettering of the US version, Dave even customised a colour from the verdigris of oxidised copper on ancient artefacts!

Each title in the series carries a simple, but clear symbolism. The “gilded cage” of book one is Kyneston, the great estate of the powerful Jardine family, outwardly glittering and magnificent, but concealing horrors. It refers also to the alternate Britain of the series. A country that is affluent, rich in history and tradition—and yet harbours rank inequality and injustice. The “tarnished city” of book two is, of course, London—the city where my parents were born, and which I have called home for a decade.

Now, a thing “tarnished” has lost its lustre, been besmirched. I can’t get too spoilery, when book one is only just releasing, but Tarnished City is a book of compromise and cruelty. Luke and Abi are forced to question just how far they’ll go to right their society’s wrongs. All our major characters will make choices that define them—and not all will choose rightly. And darkness falls on the great city of London itself.

But among the darkness, are glimmering of light: new friendships, new alliances, new loves. Even, perhaps, the promise of new worlds. That’s why book three is called Bright Ruin. I’m already wondering what magic Dave and Jo will work for its covers!





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