Banished by Liz de Jager

February 27, 2014

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s living with her unorthodox cousins and sharing their strange lives. Especially since their home-schooling 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.

The world of the Blackhart’s is a mysterious one. Monsters, mythology and magic all exist, and it’s up to the members of an extraordinary family to keep us all safe from them. When we first meet Katherine ‘Kit’ Blackhart, she is still a bit of newbie when it comes to her inheritance. Her grandmother has kept her in the dark about her ancestry up until now and she has lots to learn about the family business.

I was hooked by Kit’s story from the outset. Within a handful of pages, she’s already proved herself more than up to the task of dealing with tricky situations. She’s endearingly inquisitive and her levels of bravery would put your average warrior to shame. Kit doesn’t always get things right first time and I kinda like that. It’s always more interesting to read about a character as they learn from their mistakes. You get to see them grow and evolve in front of your eyes. Their flaws make them feel human and they come across as far more realistic. Being part of the Blackhart clan means Kit not only has power, but also responsibility. Banished is, at least in part, the story of her accepting that fact.

Thorn’s story is almost a polar opposite to Kit’s. The main difference is that he has been raised in the spotlight. He’s a member of the ruling family in the royal court of Alba, part of the Fae Otherworld, and he’s frequently reminded of the fact. Thorn already appreciates the heavy burden of responsibility that he was born to carry. The political in-fighting and age old family squabbles from Fae society are starting to bleed into the Frontier, the Fae name for over here, and Thorn is slap bang in the middle of it all.

Things really pick up when Kit and Thorn meet. They both appear to have their own in-built chaos magnets. Before you know it, the chase is on and there’s are a whole host of trolls, redcaps, ogres, werewolves and who knows what else after them both. From the heart of the English countryside to the streets of London, and then on to the Scottish Highlands, the action and pace just doesn’t let up.

The universe the de Jager has created, that exists in the shadows side by side with our own, is full of so many brilliant little touches. Banished treads similar thematic ground to genre television classics like Buffy, Angel, Once Upon a Time and Supernatural. If you’re a fan of any of those then you’ll love this book. This is a master class in modern urban fantasy .

Banished is a great introduction into the world of the Fae and I have high hopes for books two and three. I suspect that there are many more of Kit’s extended family that we’ve not yet met, I look forward to being introduced. I love the idea that the Blackharts have always been there, a secretive family who act as the hidden protectors of humanity. Working just behind the scenes and in the shadows, without our knowledge, making sure we’re all safe. More insight into the Blackhart family history would be welcome. They’ve been around for so long, there must be a host of stories to tell.

There are a few delightfully sneaky little throw away lines I spotted that I hope get picked up in the rest of this series. Things focus primarily on the Fae lords and ladies in Alba, but there are some suggestions about the other Fae elsewhere in the world. I’ll admit I’m burning with curiosity to learn more. A personal request – more werewolves would be very cool. What can I say? I’m a sucker for werewolves.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Liz de Jager on a number of occasions; you’ll probably not be stunned to discover that she is thoroughly lovely in every conceivable way. There are two things you notice about her if you’ve ever spent more than about five seconds in her company. The first is she really likes stationery. I mean a lot. I thought I was obsessive about Moleskine notebooks but I’m minor league compared to her. The second, and probably more important thing in this instance, is her boundless enthusiasm for the written word. She’s one of the most passionate advocates of genre fiction I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. That passion is no less obvious in her own work. This Young Adult novel is an accomplished, well-crafted debut. It has a wonderfully engaging plot, memorable characters and a premise that offers endless potential for further adventures. Put quite simply Banished is pure unadulterated entertainment. I adored ever page.

Banished is published by Tor and is available from 27th February 2014. The Blackharts are set to return in another two books thereafter. They can’t arrive soon enough.


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