Bright Ruined Things

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Pub Date 15 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 25 Feb 2022
St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books


"A deftly-plotted tale about ambition and belonging, Bright Ruined Things takes Shakespeare’s The Tempest and brilliantly reimagines its themes of family and love. Cohoe writes with a magic that dazzles and cuts right to the core." - Chloe Gong, New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights

Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all...

The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the island’s magic and its spirits. 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.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized 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 realizes 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. As Mae and her friends unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

In this YA fantasy, Samantha Cohoe wonderfully mixes magic and an atmospheric setting into a fantastically immersive world, with characters you won’t be able to forget.

"A deftly-plotted tale about ambition and belonging, Bright Ruined Things takes Shakespeare’s The Tempest and brilliantly reimagines its themes of family and love. Cohoe writes with a magic that...

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ISBN 9781250768841
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Featured Reviews

This book reimagines the ambition and destruction of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

The Prosper family has all the glitz and glamour and magic that Mae, the steward's daughter, desperately desires. But their wealth comes from the labor of spirits. Spirits produce the fuel from the wells, maintain the properties and even provide music that's constantly on the air.

Best friends with one Prosper, Coco, and in love with another, Miles, Mae worries that she doesn't mean as much to them as they mean to her, and she despairs of having a permanent home on the magical island. Miles and Mae make some discoveries that lead them to believe that the magic that runs the island may not be as innocent as they're led to believe. But then Mae's offered an unexpected chance to marry the wrong Prosper and has some hard choices to make.

The author creates a fascinating magical world on the island. The spoiled, selfish, troubled Prospers and desperate Mae create an explosive combination in this fast-paced drama.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance review copy of this book.

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Bright Ruined Things is a 1920's take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It's such a fun and unique story that I was completely immersed in. I normally struggle with fantasy books but I loved this one. The author has the ability to completely sweep you away with her storytelling. The story isn't hard to follow and the magic is just sprinkled in throughout which just made for a dazzling tale. Bright Ruined Things is the best book I've read this year!

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After enjoying Cohoe's debut last year, I was eagerly anticipating this book, even though I haven't seen The Tempest in years and remembered only the bare bones of the story. However, I didn't expect to fall so head over heels in love with this book!

The world building is gripping and the storyline so well crafted I was kept guessing the whole was through. The writing style had me completely enthralled, and I was never completely sure which characters I liked and which I didn't!

There was nothing predictable about this book, and that's a big part of why I loved it and felt so drawn in. I wholeheartedly recommend picking it up!

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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This fantastic modern novel creatively reimagines themes from The Tempest, takes place in a Gatsby-esque era and examines the politics and power of a family-ruled island, much like the one in We Were Liars. It speaks of spirits and harnessed magic, but also of torturously real struggles, like ambition and desire, which I'm sure many readers will resonate with.

I like that the protagonist is a people-pleaser, often to her detriment. Mae's desperation to be accepted by the infamous Prosper family is in turns pitiful and brave, leaving the reader in constant suspense about whether it will drive her to greater things, or to her own demise. It's a very refreshing perspective to read, and the author does a great job of exploring how dangerous it can be to want something you've been forbidden to have.

None of the characters are particularly likeable (although if you're a fan of backstabbing drama, you'll love them!) but this only amplifies the tale's subtle warning about being too quick to form judgements about others. For years, the Prospers take advantage of Mae, which comes back to bite them in numerous ways. But in much the same way, Mae herself is guilty of abusing her power and viewing her peers only as means to an end.

Rife with hypocrisy, irony and complexity, this novel takes place over the course of a single day, and will have you hooked from the first page to the last, and longer – I'm still thinking about the ending! If you're a fan of YA fantasy, romance and drama, look out for this one when it comes out in October.

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I never have gotten the chance to read the Tempest, which this book is loosely based on, but this novel was a thrilling adventure! The female lead character is a strong, independent woman who observes everything around her, and the Prosper family is subject to her watchful eye. The magic and spirits on the island give a great atmosphere, and I was constantly turning the page (not literally since it was an Ebook but you get my point!)

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This book...just wow! Absolutely no time was wasted. We got right to the action and then the end?? Then the end of the prologue??? Oh my word!
I came in thinking I’d really like the book. I never knew I would end up loving it! It will definitely be my top recommendation of 2021 so far!

Link for full review coming soon!!

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This is the first book I have read from Samantha Cohoe and I loved it! Filled with magic and mystery, this story will grab your attention from the very beginning! I can't wait to read more from this author!

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Bright Ruined Things is a brilliant retelling of The Tempest. Its artistry is impeccable. At its core is a wonderful and incredibly rich fantasy novel, so well built and fast paced that I wasn't able to put it down till I reached the end. I was absolutely captivated by the atmosphere, and the characters.

This novel submerges the reader in a landscape so imaginative and detailed that the information of the world building/plot never feels forced, and is never difficult to understand or picture in one's mind. I had an enjoyable time reading this and it held my attention the entire way through that I finished it within the day! I enjoyed every page and thought that the plot/story was very unique. Would recommend to anyone!

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Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all...

This book was spectacular! I loved this fantastical place Cohoe created! I could see everything clearly in my mind as I read, and the plot was written so well. I could connect to the characters, and the book had me wanting to read faster and faster. I loved all the magic woven into this story. Ivo and Mae were my favorite characters. A great read!

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Cohoe masterfully crafts a gripping tale of ambition, love, and family through a reimagination of one of Shakespeare's underappreciated plays, Tempest. The story just cuts through your core and will leave you in a trance throughout your reading experience.

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I love the 1920’s and enjoy retellings so my expectations were high and I am really happy that I wasn’t disappointed. This action packed story took place over the course of one day and night. Surprisingly, the story never dragged nor did it feel rushed. I got really involved in the storyline and if I had enough uninterrupted time, I would have finished the book in one sitting. In addition, the main and secondary characters were well developed and the growth of the main character from the beginning of the book to the epilogue felt authentic. There was an element of mystery surrounding the magic that the story revolves around and even though it was a retelling, it didn’t feel predictable. I’m happy to have a new recommendation for fans of magical fantasy.

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Imagine a book with the feel of the 1920's paired with a great sci-fi/fantasy read with a hint of royalty (I'll say Downton Abbey, because that's the one I'm most familiar with). This is that book and you won't be disappointed unless you put it off and don't read it.

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I like it. It’s very well-written and tightly plotted, very intricate and delightful. Such a wonderful story.

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Samantha Cohoe's Tempest-inspired fantasy, Bright Ruined Things, is a glitteringly magical story. With an intriguing plot and richly drawn family of characters, which reminded me a little of Knives Out if it were a fantasy novel instead of a whodunit, this 1920s-infused take on Shakespeare's classic play made for an exciting and entertaining read.

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

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A fascinating reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, we watch the protagonist make hard choices as she comes into her own.
Once started, you won’t be able to put it down. Deliciously slow to unfold, Cohoe doles out just enough pieces of the puzzle to keep you guessing.

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Bright Ruined Things, Samantha Cohoe's second book, is a sparkling, original take on The Tempest, filled with magic and mystery. I love that Bright Ruined Things, unlike so many fantasy novels, was not overburdened with heavy-handed exposition or tediously described details of a magic system, etc., in the name of worldbuilding. Its world comes into being so organically, through the eyes of a protagonist who has been enmeshed in it her whole life, someone for whom the intricacies of wealth and social class distinction are far more alien than the fact that there’s ceaseless spirit music always audible on her island.

Bright Ruined Things is a fast-paced, exciting read, with intriguing characters and an absorbing plot, and one I'm sure many readers will adore!

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the advance review copy.

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A phenomenal retelling of The Tempest! Bright Ruined Things is such a unique, and fun story, with immersive worldbuilding, beautifully descriptive writing, and fascinating characters. I loved the Gatsby-era setting, the magic, and the morally grey characters!

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Oh WOW!! I was blown away by this story. It starts out slow and weird, but it keeps you engaged until it really gets happening. The idea of wondering how all this magic happens is an itch that keeps you reading straight through to the end. It takes the ending for you to realize this is about friendship and loss of family more than the magic itself. Sometimes we take our family for granted until they aren't there anymore. Sometimes it can make folks crave even the most dysfunctional family to be their own.
Mae, thinks magic is what she wants, but truly it is to feel like she belongs and is someone. The folks around here make her feel as if she's invisible. Because she is isolated her life revolves around one family and magic. In this place she feels unwanted and invisible. She doesn't realize until much later in the book she really is seen by the people around her, they are just too engrossed in themselves to realize they don't let her know she's seen.
Because of the way they treat her, she starts some things that will forever change the family and the land they live on forever. It will have dire consequences and make her seen by the whole world, but still unloved and unappreciated.
This is a book about a girl in crisis who has no one to turn to for emotional help and strikes out on her own to forge a place for herself that matters. I feel like we have a lot of young people in this same boat doing the same things with life altering consequences they can't even begin to understand. This is a cry for help for us to look at our young people and see them, make them feel wanted and important in your life. Don't let this tale be reflected in someone you currently know.
I'm giving this a 5 of 5 rating because this is a message we should all here and it's the right time for it to be put out there...

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I just got this in a physical copy and I’m halfway through and oh my goodness is it fabulous! Cannot wait to update you all on my reading journey and how much I love this novel. Literally jaws dropping amazement

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Though I've said it before, The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare work.. so it should come as no surprise that when I spotted a new retelling in 'Bright Ruined Things' by Samantha Cohoe.. I was quick to want to read it.

While the original story is rife with those signature dramatic swings, Cohoe managed to put me through the emotional wringer with her take on the classic. I found myself in tears at times I didn't expect to be, wondering how I got there.. and by the end my eyes were just an aching, swollen mess.

Cohoe does a beautiful job of developing the reader's feelings toward her characters, both for better and worse. The relationships amongst the family and our protagonist.. Mae Wilson.. are all extremely complicated. Each character is richly layered in their own right and while we're learning about them, many of them are still learning about themselves as well.

There's no stated era, but somehow the story feels like it takes place in the Forties. Everything centered around the family has a glamorous sheen to it, in no small part I'm sure due to the abundance of Prosper wealth.. with anything beyond them seeming to be just a distant echo in the background.

I really enjoyed Mae and her struggle to carve out a better place for herself. She's a likable character even when she's self-pitying a bit and I wanted to cheer her on. Likewise, I love the depth reverberating within Ivo, Miles, and Coco. Almost no one is really what they seem to be and their truth is so much more interesting than their image.

The themes of betrayal were harnessed expertly, the magical elements were creative and distinctively rendered in the mind's eye of the reader, and there is such a feeling of loss that just builds throughout the story. There are lessons here to be learned.. perhaps about right and wrong, the many shades of unkindness, and most definitely about the pain of hindsight.

Sitting here now in the silent aftermath of this read, I am deeply moved by all of them. It's a beautiful book and I'd highly recommend it for anyone who might enjoy the story of power.. in its many forms.. that comes at a cost. If you enjoyed The Chosen and the Beautiful, These Violent Delights, or Where Dreams Descend.. this is probably the one for you.

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Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy of BRIGHT RUINED THINGS by Samantha Cohoe. I really enjoyed A GOLDEN FURY last year, so I was excited to read Cohoe's newest. I actually forgot it was a Tempest retelling until I saw a review of it on Twitter today, but I'll admit that I've never watched nor read that play so I don't have that to compare it to. Regardless, I enjoyed this story. I really related to the MC Mae and how everyone ignored and underestimated her for being quiet, which for her came from being seen as a lesser servant all her life. I enjoyed all the twists and turns and the growing mystery that kept me turning pages. There were a lot of unlikeable people in this book, but I think it worked for the tragical bent of the story and everyone stayed true to their character throughout. I enjoyed how Mae's character developed and how strong and determined she was by the end. The mysterious, magical island setting was also really fun and the historical period too, though that wasn't a big part of the plot, I'd say. All in all, I enjoyed myself and I look forward to more books from Cohoe!

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thank you to netgalley and the publishers for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

4.5 ★
'Something is wrong on this island, with this family.'

this was so good.

and im going to be completely honest and admit that i did not expect to like this very much at all.

but this story really just scratched an itch in my heart. i loved it.

- the twisted, ambitious, messy family that were the Prospers. i hated and loved every one of them. i have a thing for messed up, rich, power-hungry families, and their dynamic was just fascinating.
'All these wretched Prospers were so wretchedly beautiful.'

- the writing was absolutely lovely. it was lyrical, compelling, and flowed flawlessly- really brought the book to life

- the setting was probably my favorite. it was a historical fantasy set in the 1920's, on this small, mysterious, magical island filled with aether and spirits. it was dark and glittery and sinful and ugh i just loved the atmosphere.

- if you're a fan of chaos, betrayals, scheming, twisted secrets, and revenge, pick this up.

- the fast-paced plot, how there was never a dull moment, the way it all took place in just one day. it fits the story so well. as the book progresses, you can tell the title's becoming true- there's a delicious build-up to this bright, corrupt, lavish party where tragedy and disaster are becoming increasingly imminent.

the ending was so well done. i never would've predicted it and its an understatment to say it left me shocked. and hurt. that was cruel, ms. cohoe. i applaud you.

overall, i loved how refreshing and captivating this story was, and despite the couple chapters it took for me to warm up to the characters, i ended up completely enraptured, and would definitely recommend this.

what a wonderful book to start the new year with.

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I absolutely loved this book and read the last 80% in literally one sitting! The setting and characters were so cool and exciting! Not to mention the world building!! It was incredible! The island was so whimsy and fascinating, along with the magic found on it. Learning the secrets of the island and its spirits had me on the edge of my seat.

I really enjoyed the characters a lot, especially Mae because her growth was really well done. The Prosper family was so mysterious and at times chaotic, you never knew who was to be trusted!

It was a super quick read, despite having a fairly complex world with lots of twists and turns. It was a mystery to its core so you never really knew what was going on until the very end, which made it super exciting and engaging!

But the ending though?! I need to know more! What happens next, I need to know!!

Overall, I completely and totally recommend this ya fantasy/mystery! It was a dark kind of whimsical that keeps you on your toes!

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As a fan of the Tempest and The Great Gatsby, the synopsis of Bright Ruined Things intrigued me, as Cohoe appeared to blend the two and add a dash of mystery to boot. This is a wildly entertaining and imaginative ride through these influences.

The setting is at once this decadent Gatsby style island, a seat of privilege and power, while also being this darker Gothic style centre of death and destruction. That duality is at the centre of the book, as the overall struggle is essentially between temptation and redemption. Power rules everything, shown here through the use of magic. Unsurprisingly this magic has a darker side, kickstarting a series of mysterious events and deaths that Mae must follow along. The story here transforms into an intimate character study as we unpick the complex dynamics of this twisted, corrupt family. Everyone here has something to hide and their own desires intertwined with their motivations, leading to a suspenseful and intriguing atmosphere.

Mae was an interesting protagonist. She has quite literally lived a sheltered life on this island, cocooned in this complex dynamic and family power struggle. At the start of the story, she is so naive and trusting. However, she sees everything that occurs, giving readers some fascinating pieces of the larger picture. That naivety and innocence fades as events unfold, but I liked how her spirit remained hopeful to the very end of the book. While she is fundamentally changed by these events, she still just wants to belong. It is that very pursuit of magic and its accompanying power that may lead to her downfall though. I loved how Cohoe kept this ethical discussion going throughout, culminating in an ambiguous ending with just a touch of romance and optimism.

Bright Ruined Things is a wonderful reimagining of a classic tale, drawing from many literary influences to create a cohesive and original tale.

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Wednesday Books.

I love Shakespeare. I do not love The Tempest. When I found out Samantha Cohoe was giving it a shot I was VERY excited. I feel The Tempest has some great ideas but is very boring and pretentious. I was entranced!

The themes explored here actually kind of made me want to read the source material again to draw parallels.

I loved it so much!

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