Banished, by Liz de Jager


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.

Series: The Blackhart Legacy, #1 | Publisher: Tor UK | Published: February 27th 2014 | This edition: ARC* | My rating: 5/5

Well! March is upon us, and in my first review of this month I’m happy to say that the apparent trend for books I’ve read so far in 2014 being bloody amazing is continuing at a marvellous pace.

Liz de Jager’s debut novel takes urban fantasy, spices it up with an inviting, fresh take on Chosen Warriors Battling Forces of Evil, and (most importantly in my book) really makes us care by filling this world with sharp and cleverly written characters.

For example, you have the young couple thrown together by “fate” – in this case, a near-fatal attack in which the girl saves the boy and protects him while he recovers, thus (naturally) learning that there’s more nefarious nastiness afoot than she thought. The girl in question is Kit Blackhart, a special case among her clan of badass do-gooders on account of being the first Blackhart in a long time to be magically gifted.

Trouble is, Kit’s magic is a bit on the approach-with-caution side. By the time this is made clear in the book, I was sitting up straighter and reading quite a bit more intently, which told me a good deal about what I was onto right away.

My instinct was not wrong, either.

Yes, it’s true that Boy Meets Girl (or even Girl Meets Boy) and Race Against the Apocalypse are nothing new in terms of plot, but that can be said of just about any book out there, regardless of genre or subgenre. What matters, to my mind, is how well these templates are transformed in the writing, to offer us something that is new. De Jager does just that. The relationship that inevitably builds between Kit and Tristan, the fae Prince she ends up promising to protect, never once felt old-hat or tiresome. It felt real, and that can so often be harder to pull off than you’d think. Especially when, like me, you’re already quite hard to impress with such things. I fell right into it, I stayed invested, and by the end I wanted more badly enough that I’m probably going to re-read this book before long.

Well done, Liz.

Speaking of ‘well done’, I have to also highlight her worldbuilding – and her take on the Fae. Oh my, do I have to.

<Dons her Faerie Fangirl T-shirt >

Once again, the alternate-world line-crossing between the Fae and humanity is nothing new in urban fantasy – but here, it’s got a wonderfully fresh coat of paint. There’s magic, there’s trickery, there’s intrigue by the bucketful – and there’s a dark heart beneath it all that, to me, is what anything Fae really should have. Yes, they’re pretty and their magic can take your breath away. But the one thing such creatures – any otherworldly creatures, for that matter, and there are plenty here – should always be is bloody damn dangerous. De Jager gets that right, and keeps it on track all the way to a pretty showstopping finale. Yet, delightfully, there’s enough of a loose end – and enough consequences of the actions taken by Kit and Tristan – to ensure that readers will want to come back for more.

I know I do.

Hell, I can really only ramble on about how awesome this is. Rather than doing that and stepping into spoilery territory, though, I will simply encourage you to go out and get yourself a copy, if you haven’t done so yet. This is a big win for British YA, and it’s made me a fan of Liz de Jager for certain. More please!

Where to buy: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

* My copy of this book was received from the publisher via a Twitter competition; review was unsolicited.




One thought on “Banished, by Liz de Jager

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *