Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Banished by Liz de Jager


Title: Banished
Author: Liz de Jager
Release date: 27 February 2014
Publisher: Tor
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Source: Promotional copy from WFC '13

Description: Sworn to protect, honour and slay. Because chaos won’t banish itself…

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

My thought: I've been looking forward to this since I heard Liz de Jager had a publishing deal. Her old review blog was the first one that got me in to book blogging, and I have always admired the way she wrote in her reviews. I was not disappointed: Banished is the start of a great new urban fantasy series that I can't wait to share with my friends. And look at that cover! Don't you just want to see that on your bookshelf?

The story opens with an episode of Kit's 'everyday' life as she works under cover at a school to banish a banshee. It introduces the things she and her family do for their job, and that our world runs alongside the fae world. After her fight with the banshee, Kit goes home to recover for a few days, and that's when the trouble starts. When she meets Prince Thorn, his attackers turn their attention on her house, forcing the two to flee. As they move from place to place, bits of the jigsaw of what is happening start to come together and they try to stay one step ahead of their enemies as they head north.

The first person point of view threw me off a little bit at first, as I don't usually read books written that way, but once I had time to sit and read larger sections in one sitting, I adjusted. Seeing everything from inside Kit's head really let's you see how she is trying to fit in to this role of 'a Blackhart', keeping the human world safe, while fighting her own insecurities and coming to terms with the death of her gran, who raised her. Ms de Jager nails the 16/17 year old voice, and although I was never running around Britain with a fae prince in tow as a teenager, I felt like I could relate to Kit's experiences.

Banished brings in a fantastic cast of characters and I felt like several of them could probably carry a book of their own. My favourite is Aidan, a werewolf around Kit's age who accompanies her & Thorn for a lot of the trip. I think it's safe to guess he'll be in the next book and I'm looking forward to learning more about him. Kit's cousins are also really interesting even though there's really only a snapshot of what they get up to.

For me, the first half of the book was a series of peaks and troughs with bits I raced through reading and bits which were slower. It built up the momentum, so that when the little group leave London half way through the tension amps up and I was holding my breath as I kept turning pages to see whether Kit would save the day. Once the story grabbed me in that second half, it didn't let go. I was a little worried about a cliffhanger ending, and although readers are absolutely left wanting more, it's satisfying enough that I'll be able to cope ;-)

A fantastic debut, Liz de Jager's 'Banished' introduces a relatable young heroine whose quest to save her friends had me on the edge of my seat. I can't wait for book two.

Overall, I give it 8 out of 10.

~Ailsa

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