As I sit here in the winter morning darkness, typing by lamp light and inhaling tea and feeling rather conflicted about this whole getting-up-early thing, I wonder if this might be my last proper review of the year.
If so, it cheers me to know that the book in question was bloodydamn awesome.
The Blackhart Code: Don’t let the monsters grind you down.
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.
Series: The Blackhart Legacy #2
Publication date: November 6th 2014
Genre: Urban fantasy, YA
Liz de Jager can craft a story like nobody’s business. And given the not at all secret fact that I love to revel in a good urban fantasy story, the way that this one has so quickly strutted right in among my favourites is no small feat.
First off, the setting. It’s clear from the detail (never overwhelming, but always fascinating) that she loves London. In the Blackhart world, it comes alive, not just as a backdrop but as an added layer of colour in a story that, by itself, is wonderfully engaging enough already. Likewise, the venturing into Fae territory shows off what I suspect is a deep love of her subject. Kit’s dream scenes, as well as her physical visits to the Otherwhere, take us into a world that is undoubtedly full of danger, but still pretty darned fascinating – and beautiful, as any Fae world should be in my opinion. Pretty but creepy – check. (And yes, the same goes for London…)
Next, the characters. A few welcome familiar faces from the first book, Banished, return for this story. In particular, werewolf ally Aiden is his delightfully cheeky self, and it’s well worth noting that I really enjoy the friendship between him and Kit. Platonic relationships in YA fantasy? *Gasp!* Seriously, though, part of what makes the bones of this overall story work so well for me is the portrayal of these relationships, and whether it’s one established from the first book or something new brought in here, I’m happily thoroughly invested in all of it.
Speaking of new relationships forming… I won’t go into my fannish headcanon daydreaming here (okay maybe I’ll just eye Dante and Aiden speculatively a tiny little bit for a moment) but the introduction of Dante Alexander is, to put it very mildly, perhaps a potential goldmine of Interesting Things About To Happen. Upon first meeting him, I wasn’t sure I even liked him – at first glance he’s a little full of himself – then Things Happen, and the surprises that follow completely won me over where he’s concerned. Now I can’t wait to find out where he might go from here…
The real winning factor here, however, is simply how well Liz de Jager pulls the whole story together. It is plotted and paced wonderfully well, and even some of the seemingly minor touches like Kit befriending some local ne’er-do-well youths left me pondering possibilities. These scenes add marvellous depth to the story, but thankfully never derail it. Which is good, because evidently Kit Blackhart on a mission is a force to be reckoned with.
*Steps carefully back from the Spoiler Zone*
Seriously, though. We have here one of the most formidable and engaging protagonists I’ve come across, whether in YA or otherwise. Kit is headstrong, but she’s not foolish. She’s capable and smart, and these things inform her actions well enough to impress the hell out of me in this book. Yet she doesn’t overthink, which given the book’s ending is something that delights my inner fangirl to no end… *Pauses for fluttering*
Ahem! Okay, I should really sum this up.
Intriguing mystery? Check. Engaging characters? Check. Enjoyable relationships? Hell yes, check. Author to watch? All day long, check.
This one goes in the six-star-rating box for me. Whether you’re into YA or not, if you’re a fan of good urban fantasy and haven’t picked this series up yet, trust me. You’re missing out.