Review: Banish – Nicola Marsh

Release Date: August 1st
Published By: Harlequin Teen Australia
Pages: 272
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis: Alyssa has one week to destroy her enemy, save her spirit… and save her soul.

After her ex-boyfriend commits suicide and her mum’s alcoholism sparks yet another psychotic episode, seventeen-year-old Alyssa Wood flees her small hometown of Broadwater and heads to New York City to stay with her bohemian aunt — a Wicca High Priestess.

Alyssa revels in the anonymity of a big city and her new life. Her grades climb, she has a new best friend, and a new guy: the sexy geek Ronan — a saxophone player who prefers jazz to pop.

But her newfound peace is soon shattered when she sees a dead body in one of Ronan’s music clips — and she’s the only one who can see it. Worse still, Alyssa recognises the body that has been murdered a week forward!

Alyssa doesn’t believe in the supernatural…despite her family’s Wicca background. So how will she overcome evil when it’s closer than she thinks?

Review: Thank you HarlequinTeen Australia for the copy of Banish by Nicola Marsh.

Banish is a wonderful mix of genres – YA, romance, mystery and thriller – and being Nicola Marsh’s first YA book (she has published many other novels), I have to say that I was extremely impressed with her ability to write YA characters, and her ability to understand the teenage mind – their thought process, their actions and reactions.

Banish follows Alyssa, who has recently moved to New York to live with her Aunty after her own mother’s alcoholism becomes too much to handle, and her ex-boyfriend committed suicide. Alyssa loves her life in New York – nobody knows her, she seems to be able to avoid the strong Wicca connections in her family even though her Aunty is a Wicca High priestess, and she has started dating the older, sexy saxophone player, Ronan. Everything is going great in Alyssa’s new life, until Ronan sends her a music clip and she sees a dead body in the clip – a dead body that no one else can see.

Alyssa needs to figure out why she is seeing dead people in her boyfriend’s music clip, so she sets out on a frightening adventure to find the truth. As she starts to uncover the dark truth, she learns that sometimes you trust the wrong people, don’t trust in the right ones and she may just have to accept a destiny that she never wanted. – that is, if she survives.

Banish is a unique concept in YA by incorporating a couple of different paranormal aspects into this book, as well the mystery and thriller aspects. The thriller aspects to this book will keep you on the edge of your seat; it is chilling and disturbing (in a good way).

The protagonist, Alyssa, is blunt, impulsive, socially awkward and sometimes even selfish. I loved the realism in the characters and their actions, and especially loved the sarcasm in Banish. What you would expect a character to say in a certain situation, was said… and sometimes, even when things may not have been said, Alyssa tended to say them anyway.

I liked the fact that this book was set over the period of 1 week, as it didn’t feel like it was dragging out. The relationships in this book were also were on “track” for the period that the characters had known each other (ieAlyssa and Ronan knew each other before the beginning of Banish) and things didn’t seem to move too fast, which is something that YA books can suffer from. Although, I have to say, that Ronan did seem a little too perfect.

Although I found the “bad guy” aspect a little predictable, but there was lots of intrigue in Banish to keep me interested – I may have thought I knew the “who” but I could not work out the “why”, so that kept it very interesting. The thriller aspect of this book is fantastic, especially considering it is YA – it is dark, creepy and very well done. There is definitely some spine-chilling moments in this book J

The one thing that I didn’t like about Banish was there was something towards the end of the book that bugged me – I won’t say exactly what it is as I don’t want it to affect anyone else, but I will say it was just one word. I understand why Nicola went down this track, but for me, it was a little distracting (if something bugs me, it sticks in my head no matter how much I try to forget it). This one little thing, caused me confusion in an already confusing situation – and that was the purpose of it – but my head would not let it go, and unfortunately, it affected my reading enjoyment. I hope this does not happen to anyone else – as without that, this would have been a solid 4 star book for me.

Quotes:

Easy for him to say. He hadn’t seen his mom dance naked in the moonlight on Samhain.

“Are mundanes like Muggles?”

His lips touched mine and my world lurched. I strained towards him, my hands clinging to his shoulders, desperate for an anchor. His lips were firm and warm and skilful. Either he’d done this a lot or playing the sax was a prerequisite for seriously hot making out.

I’d built up an entire cosy scenario in my head that was now clouded by distrust and suspicion and compunction.

“You could try talking to me rather than throwing a temper tantrum.”

I liked having him cuddle me from behind; it felt safe, like he had my back and…
“Oh my god, is that a boner?” I wrenched free of his embrace and turned around in time to see his sheepish shrug.
“I’m a guy. You were rubbing against me. Do the math.”

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