Monday, 20 April 2015

The Blackheart Legacy #2: Vowed by Liz De Jager (Tor)

I review Liz De Jager’s Vowed, the second book in the young adult urban fantasy series The Blackheart Legacy, published by Tor Books.

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.

I can’t resist a good urban fantasy, especially when it’s set in London, and given how strong the first book in The Blackheart Legacy, Banished was I was really looking forward to seeing what Liz De Jager could come up with in the second act, and she didn’t disappoint, delivering a wonderfully fun, fast paced read that really impressed. The characters are great and the world that’s developing around them is awesome, with the mystery and suspense really helping to add to the mix of a fantastic novel that keeps you hooked from the beginning to the end.

Kit’s one of the more fun characters whose journey I’ve followed in a while and her development is great to watch unfold here as she changes over the course of the novel, evolving and leaving a strong impression on the reader. She’s kickass and a great protagonist for the reader to follow, especially with the curtain pushed back on the Fae World. We are introduced to more things than we were before, and it’s good to see that the other characters that we spend time with are just as compelling, with newcomer Government Trainee Dante Alexander being a welcome addition to the book and Prince Thorn offering some perspective on the Fae side of things, offering up an interesting, well balanced cast.

Something that’s also refreshing to see in YA urban fantasy is a platonic relationship between a female and male lead character that doesn’t end up becoming a romantic one, with the friendship between Kit and the werewolf Aiden being one of the more fun parts  of the novel, with both characters having some good interactions that were pretty enjoyable to read.

There’s plenty of expansion on the world here as it starts to get more and more fleshed out in front of us. We learn a lot more about the Fae World, with some interesting teases dropped about things like The Dragon Lords of Chin that will make you want to discover more. There’s a lot of mystery here with it feeling very much like a Detective novel, obviously firmly planted in the Urban Fantasy genre. The themes highlighted in the novel are more complex than its predecessor, affecting the characters and continuing their development, with the characters, not just Kit, really developing well. There's a lot of stuff here that makes me really excited to see what happens in the third act of The Blackheart Legacy, and it couldn't get here quickly enough. 

I mentioned that I love good Urban Fantasy books set in London, and Vowed is no exception. When done properly, London can almost feel like a character in itself (See Tom Pollock’s Skyscraper Throne Trilogy and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere for good examples, and I’d also point older readers in the direction of Kate Griffin’s Matthew Swift Series and the Hellblazer Graphic Novels from Vertigo Comics), and something similar is on display here, with the level of world building being played out very well. It doesn’t feel like a bland, forgettable backdrop that could be changed with any other city and you wouldn’t notice the difference, having its own unique identity, and coupled with the fascinating world building, the rich setting really works in the book's favour .

There’s never a dull moment in Vowed, and readers of Banished will find more to love in the book’s second outing. It’s well plotted, fun, fast paced and intriguing, featuring some great lead characters set against a fantastic backdrop and once again, offers up an excellent read for fans of Young Adult Fiction. 

VERDICT: 8.9/10

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