Review: Banished by Liz de Jager

I dislike reading books that are part of a series. Not because I dislike the concept, but because inevitably, when I find a series I like, most of the books haven’t come out yet, and then I’m stuck waiting impatiently.

Which is why I didn’t want to read Banished by Liz de Jager. Also, because I kind of know de Jager via Twitter, and what if I didn’t like the book? Awkward.

Thank goodness that I had nothing to worry about when it came to not liking the book, because I really did, but that obviously means the core reason I don’t like reading books in a series did materialise – there are two more books to come (I think), one, Vowed, released today, and another released I don’t know when.

Anyway… Kit is a Blackhart, part of a family protecting the non-magic human world from evil. When Kit rescues fae (magic) prince Thorn, it’s the beginning of an epic battle between good magic and bad. If Kit and Thorn fail in their quest, not only will the fae world fall, so will the human world.

In Banished de Jager creates a dense world, or rather, two dense worlds, the fae and the non. The world are linked by the Blackharts, the portals between them, the fae folk living and visiting the human world, and the fact that the human government is aware of the fae and its world. You have no idea how happy I am with that last point – so often in books/films/television programmes humans seem oblivious to the strange goings on around them, so it’s great that in Banished the stupidity of humans doesn’t extend beyond everyday stupidity into wilful ignorance. Many chapters in Banished start with an extract from the files of HMDSDI (Her Majesty’s Department of Supernatural Defence and Intervention), which provide a neat little way of explaining the more supernatural elements of the book without taking you out of the story or using really clunky exposition.

Central to the novel is Kit – this is really the story of her maturing and continuing to learn about the worlds around her first hand as much as it is about a battle between good and evil. Banished begins a year after the death of Kit’s grandmother, and a year after Kit has discovered she is a Blackhart. Unusually, again, de Jager chooses to dispense with any angst that Kit may have about her new family. Sure, it’s a lot to come to terms with but Kit is enjoying her new life, which is refreshing and means Banished can get on with thrusting Kit into a variety of situations and seeing how she gets on.

On the whole, the romance elements of the book work. Kit, for all that she’s a very unusual human, is still a fairly typical teenager. She’s attracted to Thorn from the off, but the romance doesn’t overtake the rest of the story, although their connection is a little too deep a little too fast for me. Still, de Jager’s conclusion to their story sets the stage for the next books, and hopefully there’ll be more development.

As to the actual fantasy and supernatural elements to the book, I thought they were really good. The second half of the book picked up the pace, but that first half really set the scene and dropped plenty of clues as to what was coming, which you only realised once de Jager revealed the finer details. I loved the melding of well-known supernatural and fairytale/folk elements, all slightly changed with de Jager’s own twist.

As this is the first book in The Blackhart Legacy, there is plenty more to come – I hope to see more of Aiden in future books, and get to know Kit better. Banished is a great start, but darn it, it really reminds me why I don’t like reading series!

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