Vowed by Liz de Jager

November 17, 2014

Please note Vowed is a direct sequel to Banished so it is entirely possible that this review may contain something akin to spoilers if you haven’t already read book one. Actually if you haven’t read Banished why are you here? Go read it and then come back and we’ll talk.

A Blackhart can see the supernatural behind everyday crimes. But some crimes hide even greater evils . . .

Kit Blackhart must investigate why children are disappearing from a London estate. Their parents, the police and Kit’s fae allies claim to know nothing. And as more children disappear, the pressure mounts. Luckily, or unluckily, government trainee Dante Alexander is helping Kit with the case. Yet just as her feelings towards him begin to thaw, his life falls apart. As Kit struggles to unravel Dante’s problems and solve their case, she meets fae Prince Thorn in her dreams – but their relationship is utterly forbidden.

Then Kit digs too deep, uncovering a mystery that’s been hidden for one thousand years. It’s a secret that could just tear down our world.

Last year I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy of the debut novel by Liz de Jager, Banished while at World Fantasy Con. It was great fun, so when the opportunity to read the next chapter in the adventures of Kit Blackhart, I jumped at the chance.

The second book in an on-going series is really the make or break novel, isn’t it? There are fans out there that have had their expectations set by book one and are hungry for more. I suspect it must be a bit of a nightmare for any fledgling author. It’s the literary equivalent of that “difficult second album”. The second book has to deliver so very many things – move the main story onward, expand successfully on the original premise and set things up for further books. The good news is that de Jager has taken all this in her stride, and Vowed doesn’t miss a beat. From the outset, we’re straight back into Kit’s story and she is still the chaos magnet she was before. It’s quickly established that all manner of otherworldly related weirdness is going on, and it’s up to young Miss Blackhart to sort it all out.

There is some wonderful evolution being displayed in Kit’s character. The nervousness and uncertainty that she exhibited in Banished is starting to fall away. She is coming into her stride and is far more sure of herself and the limits of her powers. The Fae world is less of a mystery than it was before and she has come to understand the pivotal role that the Blackhart family need to play in shaping events. There is more certainty and determination in her actions. That sort of development is exactly what I am looking for in a protagonist. Kit is at the heart and soul of these novels, she can’t ever stagnate, she needs to always be learning and taking on new challenges.

Vowed also introduces a new character in the form of Dante Alexander. Kit is forced into a partnership with Mr Alexander, and she quickly comes to realise that he has more than a few secrets of his own.

Prince Thorn hasn’t entirely disappeared either. His presence is felt throughout and he actually pops up in person in a handful of chapters. He is still learning the ropes as the Guardian of Fae society, but finds himself torn between obligation to his new role, and following his own dreams. I suspect he will play a far larger role in book three.

My only criticism? I really would have liked more werewolves in the book. Aidan was one of my favourite characters in Banished and I hoped to see more of him and his family in this book. Aidan does appear, just not enough. I do so enjoy werewolves.

Oh, Liz de Jager. you’re such a tease. Once again you’ve managed to tantalise with hints regarding the rest of the Fae world. The dragon lords of Chin and The Empress of Rus, all sound so bloomin evocative. I need to know more! I also need to know more about the Blackhart family themselves. Again, there are some wonderful hints about Kit’s parents and the rest of the extended brood. Promise me that there will be more, pretty please with sugar on top.

The way things are going, book three is going to be, and I’ll borrow an appropriate wrestling term here, a full on slobberknocker!  If you haven’t already discovered this exciting new talent in young adult urban fantasy, then I strongly suggest you seek her out. I’m more than happy to confirm what I already suspected, Banished wasn’t a one off. Liz de Jager has some serious skills and I can’t wait to see what she does next. Bring on the next book.

Vowed is published by Tor UK and is available now. This novel confirms that both books of The Blackhart Legacy are well worth your time. Highly recommended.

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