(Image from Barnes & Noble)
(Note: While this review will not contain spoilers for Banished, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, Forbidden. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)
After witnessing the man to whom she's betrothed kill the man she loves, Jayden believes she has lost everything. Estranged from her tribe, separated from her family, and on the run from Horeb—her bloodthirsty fiancé—the desperate 18-year-old combs the desert to confirm a rumor that her beloved Kadesh yet lives. Alive, but gravely wounded, Kadesh insists they flee to the far-off southern lands of his birth. Only there, in a place of peace, can he safely wed Jayden, making her his Princess of Sariba. Longing for a happily ever after far from the clutches of the vile Horeb, Jayden joins Kadesh's caravan of soldiers for the lengthy and dangerous journey.
Although she's thrilled to be on her way, Jayden can't rest easy. She worries about Horeb, who's only weeks away with his own army; about her lost sisters, whom she may never see again; about her young bodyguard, who may not be as trustworthy as he seems; and about Kadesh, who appears to be keeping important secrets from her. How well does Jayden really know the man she's following to Sariba? Will he fulfill the promises he's made to her or abandon her in a foreign land? With danger lurking around every sand dune, Jayden must decide where her loyalties really lie. All she wants is safety for herself and her family. Where will she find it? In Tadmur with a man who's loathsome but powerful or in Sariba with Kadesh, the prince she loves but hardly knows? As she fights for survival, Jayden must decide whom to trust—with her love, her lot, and the lives of everyone she loves.
I've been a big fan of Kimberley Griffiths Little ever since I discovered her middle grade "bayou books" a few years ago. Although her YA trilogy takes place far, far away from the Louisana swampland, the series has everything I've come to love about Little's storytelling—a vivid, atmospheric setting; colorful, intriguing characters; a compelling, fast-paced plot; and a sprinkle of magic that spices her novels with that something special that is hard to describe but easily identifiable as vintage KGL. Banished, the second book in the series, blends all of these elements to continue the riveting story begun in Forbidden. Although I found Banished a tad more predictable than its predecessor, I still raced through it, unable to stop until I knew what happened to Jayden. Since there's one more book in the trilogy (Returned, coming February 2017), it's a given that our heroine will not find her HEA quite yet. Banished is a satisfying read in and of itself, true, but it will definitely leave you hungering for Returned. All I can say is, February, come soon!
(Readalikes: Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little; also, the publisher compares the trilogy to Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Schecter and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for brief, mild language (no F-bombs); violence; blood/gore; sensuality; and (non-graphic) references to rape, prostitution, and sexual slavery
To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Banished from the generous folks at HarperCollins. Thank you!