Read the first two books before tackling ‘Banished’

Well, look at you.

And you do — ten times a day, there in the mirror, brushing your teeth, doing makeup and hair. Look at you, taking a selfie. Look at you, smiling at a friend through the mirror, looking back. As in the new book “Banished” by Betsy Schow, that mirror image looks magical.

Dorothea was tired of saying the same things to Dr. Baum.

Over and over, she’d been telling him about Emerald City , how she was really a princess and how she’d messed everything up with a stupid wish. She was sick of saying it. She wanted her own normal back and time was running out: her memories were slowly being overridden by current-world things. She needed to stop talking and get out of the mental health facility where she was being held, before things got worse.

Because the evil Griz knew where Dorothea was, though, that would be easier said than done. Fortunately, another resident at the hospital — a boy named John who was eerily like her late, beloved Kato — was more than willing to help.

It’s a long way from scullery maid to the king of Camelot, but “a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do,” and Rexi was doing it.

Pretending to be a boy and accidentally being crowned wasn’t the original plan. When she got caught up in Dorothea’s stupid wish, Rexi had no idea that she’d become keeper of the sword, Excalibur; or that she’d have to protect Story; or that she’d battle with her own mirror-images as well as with Dorothea’s enemies, Blanc and Morte.

All Rexi really wanted was to have things back to her own normal which meant finding Dorothea, wherever she was, and making the situation right. But even with the help of the Wizard, Mordred, and the head-swapping Hydra, it wouldn’t be easy.

It would, in fact, be a spell of an ordeal…

There are two divergent ways of seeing “Banished.” One is meh. The other is good.

On one hand, it’s too much.

There are a lot of characters inside this book, and some of them are similar enough to cause moments of “huh??” It doesn’t help that one of them is a head-shifter with many personalities, or that the tale goes on and on in a soup of wrapped-up plotlines, as though the entire cast needed to be seen one final time before the back cover is closed.

On the other hand, you may not care. Your brain will be too busy with a finale that runs 100 mph in two different worlds and multiple fairy tale/myth mash-ups to really be thinking about sorting characters. In the end, it won’t matter and in the meantime, you’ll enjoy author Betsy Schow’s clever-times-two writing.

It may especially help to read the first two books in this trilogy; in fact, seriously, don’t tackle this one without them. No, start at the beginning, and readers 12-and-up who love funny, snarky fantasy-fairy tales will find “Banished” to be a book to look at.


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