My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So admittedly the Fae genre of YA is not something I usually read, though I did once venture to the realm of Julie Kagawa and Holly Black’s Tithe. Anywho, I enjoyed Banished and especially its unusual heroine, Kit.
Unlike other protagonists who agonise over their magical abilities, Kit is fairly straight up about her own. She’s well aware that they went crazy once before when she was younger and has kept a tight rein on them since, though she’s not frightened to experiment with them, which is a refreshing attitude to adopt.
Also, de Jager leaves PLENTY of room for development on this front, as Kit tends to rely on punching and stabbing her way out of the many corners in which she finds herself. Kit’s emotional reaction to the violence she inflicts is not ignored. De Jager makes sure she’s not some wholly unrealistic hero-bitch who kills without feeling any backlash. Kit is a teenager, after all, at the most difficult stage of her life: teetering on the cusp of adulthood.
Yes, there is romance, but it’s not overdone and it takes second place to the plot, which is nice and pacey. This is a series so – as you can probably guess – Kit and Thorn aren’t going to be allowed to stay together. Obviously I’ve not read the sequel, but I am sure we need not fear a Twilight Bella-esque descent into lovesick self-pity. Kit is independent, intelligent and she gets on with things. She’s not the type to moon over a boy to the exclusion of all else, which is frankly great. She’s a modern woman who has her own formidable attributes to rely on. There’s a bit in chapter 26 where she gives Thorn a good talking to, showing a level of perception that surprised me.
The writing is fluid and engaging, with just the right amount of description balanced with dialogue (which had a light, comic feel to it). It was also very modern. That jarred with me at first, probably because I am so used to reading secondary world fantasy, but once I got over that, I found it suited Kit’s personality.
On a few occasions, de Jager’s language didn’t ring true, notably from the character, Istvan. That was my only real niggle. Diverse characters sometimes spoke in the same vernacular, utilising the same expressions. This made the Fae and the humans rather surprisingly alike in their dialogue even though the two races are supposed to be a world apart. Looking at this issue from another angle, you could argue that de Jager’s Fae move with the times, differentiating them from the traditional Fae of say Tam Lin’s world.
However, to give credit where it’s due, the Fae’s actual behaviour, particularly the forester Crow’s and the Royal Family’s, was certainly distinct and a far cry from how a human would act in a given situation. De Jager manages to get that creepy, slightly discordant vibe across that let’s us know we’re in the presence of something Other.
With a solid cast of supporting characters and a contemporary atmosphere, Banished is a fun read that introduces new and exciting elements to a well-mined genre.