Jul 16, 2013
Author: Nicola Marsh
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN Australia
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: From Publisher, For Review (via Netgalley)
Release Date: August 1st, 2013
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?
Both residents and visitors of The Greatest City In The World often comment on it’s anonymity; the city’s constant buzz and activity allows for them to fade into the background within it’s streets, to be able to escape from one’s history and the mistakes that they have made. For 17 year old Alyssa Wood, that reason in particular is what lead her to abandon her alcoholic and seemingly borderline insane mother in Broadwater for the bright lights of New York City and her well-known and often eccentric priestess aunt. For Alyssa, New York is a getaway. An escape from the past and the guilt that she is desperate to forget after her ex-boyfriend committed suicide… The day after she broke up with him.
Six months into the move, and things seem to start looking up for Alyssa. Her aunt is supportive, but not overbearing. She finds a best friend and school study partner in Seth who, like Alyssa, comes from a small town and seems to have secrets of his own. Alyssa even finds romance, companionship and acceptance in Ronan, a musician and IT geek. Ronan culminates their first date by sending Alyssa a video of him performing a song that he had written for her… only when she watches it, she sees a body. A bloody body. A bloody and possibly dead body. Her worries only tenfold when she determines that she is the only one who can see the body. As more and more pieces of Alyssa’s hidden past show up in her new life, she must accept the possibility that her family’s Wicca beliefs may not necessarily be beliefs and the past that she has tried so desperately to hide… and somehow save the familiar girl in the video, and herself, in the process.
Banish is a very interesting read that approaches urban magic in a distinct way. It is quite different from the typical paranormal stories that are often released, and I really liked Marsh’s approach on the soul and the possibility of communicating with the dead who find themselves with unfinished business on Earth. Marsh did this in a way that wasn’t terrifying or disturbing, yet still believable. I also enjoyed the little pieces of Alyssa’s history that were shared with us, as she was a character that I had difficulty understanding and providing empathy for. I enjoyed seeing the details of Wicca magic and some of the beliefs that they have, as well as the spells that were shown to us readers. I LOVED the last 3/4 of the story, I couldn’t put it down until the very last page. Nicola Marsh has a lot of potential with the thriller genre. On the other hand, I was not convinced of the romance between Ronan and Alyssa. I felt little chemistry or connection between them and their relationship development was quite lacking. I actually think the story would have gone better without the romance.
When stripped of the thrill and the mystery, Banish is a simple story of a girl who is trying to find her identity, of redefining oneself regardless of one’s past and the mistakes that they may have made. It is simply a teenage girl, torn between her cultural roots and the expectations that society has placed on her. And I think that’s what I enjoyed the most about it. Alyssa’s character development soars in the last 3/4 of the book. She is no longer the blind child of her past. But even with the thrill and mystery, Banish shows the story of loss. Of desperation and guilt and anger. Of horrors that are not necessarily Wiccan and how one’s actions can affect so many other people. And it is a really good story.
For her first venture into YA and thriller, Nicola Marsh provides a very solid read in the form of Banish. I quite enjoyed it, and will definitely look forward to any follow ups and any other YA stories she chooses to share with us. For readers of YA paranormal and thriller, as well as lovers of urban fantasy and magic, Banish is a book worth checking out this summer.
An Enjoyable Read, Well Written!
**Please Note: This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.**