Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Banished, by Liz de Jager

The Blackhart family are said to be the descendants of Hansel and Gretel, but Kit grew up with her grandmother, away from the rest of her family, knowing nothing of their secrets. Until last year. When her grandmother died, Uncle Jamie took her back to Blackhart Manor, and in the intervening months she’s gained knowledge of everything from the fae kingdoms to Latin to weaponry. She’s still getting used to her magic, though, a rare gift for humans and the only one in her family to possess it in centuries.

Liz de Jager introduces us to Kit and her world in the opening pages with a tense and enjoyable battle between Kit and a banshee who’s taken up residence in a local school. It sucks you straight in to Kit’s story, providing just the right levels of action and intrigue about this world to keep the pages turning. This, however, is only the beginning…

Two days later, left alone in the Manor house when her cousins are sent on a mission to Scotland, Kit awakes in the night to a sense of alarm. The buzz of the air leads her to the woods on the edge of the property and a young fae prince fighting for his life against a gathering of nasty little redcaps. Throwing herself into the fray, Kit is able to save the prince and return with him to the safety of the house. But now what is she supposed to do? The Manor is under attack, no-one in the family is answering their phones, and Prince Thorn brings news of his father’s Citadel being attacked, the King in hiding, the gates between the human and fae worlds slamming shut.

Who is behind the uprising? Is there a traitor in their midst – perhaps more than one? Where have Kit’s family disappeared to and, without them to turn to, what steps can she and Thorn take next?

Banished could be better written – some of de Jager’s sentences are terribly clunky (something I’m surprised wasn’t picked up on in editing) and there are little plot holes here and there - but I really loved the world-building, especially the mythology of the Otherwhere, the Elder Gods and all the supernatural aspects of the story. It has great pace, too; it’s great to have another kick-ass supernatural story set in the UK, and bears well to the comparisons that have been made between Banished and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series – Clare’s world is different to de Jager’s (and a little slicker), but the feel is similar. Fr anyone who enjoys Banished I would also very strongly recommend they read the completely awesome and un-criticisable Half Bad by Sally Green.

While Kit and Thorn tried figure out what was going on, being pursued by a powerful magic wielder and a myriad of supernatural creatures bent on capturing the prince, I got completely wrapped up in the story and would have happily gone straight on to book two, except it has yet to be published. What, after all, is all this about Thorn being a guardian? They say the seventh son of a seventh son is blessed with impressive magical powers, but Thorn feels like he’s a long way from extraordinary. Is there more to Kit’s powers than meet the eye? And how much faith should you really put into a prophecy?

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