Bright Ruined Things

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 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 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 starts to realize 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.

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


"Fans of Shakespeare’s The Tempest will find much to enjoy, as will readers eager for a luxurious—but not escapist—1920s period piece.[...]An intriguing story about the rot that lies beneath splendor."


"This dizzying struggle over power, magic, and dreams will sink readers into this fantasy's web of ambition and family tension. A strong choice for libraries serving teens."

School Library Journal

"Epiphanies come fast and furious—the main action unfolds in 24 hours via Mae’s melodramatic, self-serious narration—in a novel whose sumptuous setting alongside the careless, magical rich proffers undeniable pleasures."

Publisher's Weekly

"[A] smashing Shakespearean historical fantasy."


"Samantha Cohoe’s intriguing mashup of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby makes for a thoroughly immersive read[...]BRIGHT RUINED THINGS is a more insightful novel than readers might expect, while also devoting a fair amount of its pages to considering what it means to be a person of integrity who chooses to stand up to the ugliness of power at all costs. I’ll take some Gatsby with my Shakespeare any day, as long as Cohoe is the one doing the writing."


"Cohoe’s sophomore filled with magic, romance, secrets, and lies."


"Mae isn’t a plucky heroine but a hungry young woman realizing that, exploited though she is, she benefits from a system of colonial oppression. Cohoe[...] ably combines a postcolonial reading of The Tempest with the literary tradition of edgy, electric aristocrats and outsiders in London’s 1920s social scene."

Bulletin of the Center for Children's 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, #1 New York Times bestselling author of THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS

"I was utterly captivated by the world Samantha Cohoe conjured on this mysterious island, where magic and power rule hand-in-hand with intrigue and desire. A wealthy family, a web of secrets about the past, and a cast of glittering characters who feel like they just stepped out from one of The Great Gatsby's legendary parties―what's not to love? I was swept right along with Mae as she digs in to uncover the truth behind the magic wielded by the Prosper family and wrestles with her own desire to grasp hold of power she's long been denied."

Lisa DeSelm, author of The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice