Review: The Stag Lord by Darby Kaye

Posted December 1, 2014 by Carmel in Carmel, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 70 Comments

Review: The Stag Lord by Darby Kaye
The Stag Lord by Darby Kaye
Series: Bannerman Boru #1
Published by Spence City
Published on: December 2, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 264
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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On the run across America from a vengeful shape-shifter, Bannerman “Bann” Boru has only one thing on his mind: keeping himself and his young son, Cor, alive.

At any cost.


Until he meets Shay Doyle, healer and member of a secret group of immortal Celtic warriors, the Tuatha De Danaan, living in modern-day Colorado. When Cor is injured, Bannerman is forced to accept her help. He quickly realizes that the golden-haired Healer is shield-maiden tough and can hold her own on the field of battle with the big boys. And Shay soon discovers that there is more to Bann than meets the eye.

Now, with the shape-shifter Cernunnos teaming up with the local pack of Fir Bolgs (Goth wannabes with a nasty taste for children), Bannerman, Shay, her wolf-dog, Max, and the rest of the Doyle clan must figure out how to battle one insane god.


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When I found out that Darby Kaye (Karchut) was making the jump from Young Adult to Urban Fantasy, I was beyond fired up because I loved the father / son bond that was at the center of her GRIFFIN series, and couldn’t wait to see her work her magic on this genre. The relationship between Bann & Cor was indeed wonderful, then the author took her strong character dynamics a step further by tacking on a love interest, and strong family ties with Shay & the Doyle clan. Fae story lines aren’t exactly scarce in paranormal, and yet Kaye still managed to inject originality into their mythology while also spinning a delightful tale filled with action, mystery, and romance.

Children are usually a liability in UF, and have a habit of messing with a novel’s pacing because the protagonist constantly has to bail them out of trouble. That so wasn’t the case here; yes, Cor made a few bad calls, but as a whole he was an asset to THE STAG LORD’s plot, plus he helped make being a father look damn sexy. The interactions between the two Boru males were the high points of this story; I liked how conflicted Bann was at times with balancing being a dad and his own happiness vis-à-vis his growing feelings for Shay. The spunk that the eight year old brought to the dialogue, and his relationship with Max the dog, were stunningly lifelike.

I was happy that Kaye took her time with the romantic aspects of this book; Bann & Shay’s connection flourished gradually over the course of three weeks, and progressed from friendship, to bed buddies, to coupledom at a believable rate given their attraction. I loved how Doyle understood that Boru’s kid would always be #1 in his life, and that she knew when to push, and when to take a step back. My panties were on fire for this series’ tortured hero with his swoon worthy Irish brogue, and beautiful heart (and bod!). Shay was no shrinking violet either; I adored her quiet strength, steadfastness, and that her bravery equaled Bann’s.

The lore surrounding the Tuatha De Danaan, and the origins of Cernunnos’ vendetta against the Boru family made for some compelling world-building, and I enjoyed all of the various monsters that came along with them. There were also a couple of impressive plot twists, although that last one was somewhat upsetting. I did however find that this novel dawdled a bit towards the end; Bann & Cor’s about-face didn’t really add anything to the story other than extra pages, and the set-up for the next installment was overly blatant. I am curious though as to why Cernunnos deviated slightly from his kill Boru agenda. Book 2 awaits!

THE STAG LORD was a fine kick-off to the BANNERMAN BORU series, and a superb Urban Fantasy debut by author, Darby Kaye.

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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70 responses to “Review: The Stag Lord by Darby Kaye

  1. Yay, glad to hear the transition from YA to UF was a success for this author! sounds like the author took the time to develop the romance, and that you enjoyed it even though there were a few problems towards the end. The different monsters and world building are definitely interesting though! I don’t know about the names though, they are so hard to read lol. Great review Carmel!
    Jeann recently posted…Blog Tour, Giveaway & Review: Slip by David Estes

    • The names are a bit weird, especially the main hero’s, so that did take some getting used to, but they match the backstory. Seamless genre jumping is the true mark of very talented author IMO.

  2. I love this: “Fae story lines aren’t exactly scarce in paranormal, and yet Kaye still managed to inject originality into their mythology while also spinning a delightful tale filled with action, mystery, and romance.”

    That tid bit right there alone makes me want to read this!
    Wonderful review Carmel!
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Review: Play of Light by Debra Doxer

  3. I hadn’t heard of this author so I didn’t even know Kaye had written YA before! Glad their transition from YA to UF went smoothly and that you ended up really liking this one. I don’t know much about Fae stories unfortunately, while there is an abundance of them in paranormal I’ve always just skipped over them. That being said, you’ve got me interested Carmel since you mentioned just how original this one is. Okay, i’m willing to give this one a shot! My first Fae read.
    Lily recently posted…Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3):Review

    • This novel isn’t a bad way to go to pop your fae cherry, Lily! And, if those elements don’t win you over, the hunky Irishman, great family dynamics, and sweet romance will!

  4. Oooo I loved the Griffin series too! I didn’t realize she’s made the switch to UF – YAY! Really love the sound of this one Carmel, particularly the romantic relationship and the relationship between Bann and his son. I love stories that feature family dynamics:)

    • Jenny, I grinned when I read your comment! We do love our “Griffins”. Did you hear the Griffin series was just optioned for film rights? I know – I’m still pinching myself. This, on top of THE STAG LORD, is almost too much joy!

  5. I haven’t heard of Kaye before. But, this book sounds facinating! I had an aweful experience with Melissa Marr’s fae series, Wicked Lovely, it nearly killed me! But, your review has enspired me to attempt another fae series. Great review Carmel! :]

    • Don’t let one bad experience ruin fae for you because they have so much more to offer when in the right author’s hands. This book comes out tomorrow BTW. 🙂

  6. Okay, I don’t normally read the synopsis of the book when I read your reviews but when skimming down the page, I caught “Colorado” so I went back and read it. Just that was enough to have me adding this to my tbr. Then your review! I haven’t heard of Darby Kaye or Darby Karchut before but I’m going to be checking out this series for sure. The characters sound well done – I love a good dad 🙂 – and the world building sounds amazing! I haven’t read a book with a good fae storyline in quite awhile. You have me excited, Carmel!
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…**Release Day Blitz & Giveaway ~ Hansel Part 4 ~ Ella James**

    • Well, would you look at that! We’re adding to each other’s shopping baskets one again. It must be Monday! It’s great fun discovering a book that’s set right in your own backward, so you might even end up enjoying this one more than I did.

  7. Today is a day for discovery. I just saw another new-to-me author the sounded interesting, and now this! I’m loving the sound of it!
    For some reason,the Tuatha De Danaan sounds familiar to me, but I can’t remember from what book. In any case, this is going on my TBR to be TBL.:)
    Good job Carmel!
    Lupdilup recently posted…The King by Tiffany Reisz Audiobook Review

    • I think you’ve listened to a couple of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books, no? The Tuatha De Danaan make regular appearances in that series, so that might be where you’ve seen ’em before.

  8. Thank you so much, Carmel, for reading and reviewing my book. I had such a hoot writing it and exploring a whole new sandbox in which to play! Cheers!

    • Thanks for hitting me up for a review! I totally would have missed this one otherwise. Can’t wait to see what trouble Bannerman Boru & Cor get into next.

  9. I’m really liking the sound of the world here: “The lore surrounding the Tuatha De Danaan, and the origins of Cernunnos’ vendetta against the Boru family made for some compelling world-building, and I enjoyed all of the various monsters that came along with them” You say Tuatha De Danaan, and I’m usually in! First in a series, panty melting, slow romance, and alpha hero with brogue. *sigh* I’m adding it 🙂

    • This novel definitely has A LOT going for it, and the Tuatha De Danaan have a way of upping the ante on any story line, so you know you’re in for something extra special.

    • My goal is to catch readers’ attention from the first line, so I’m happy to hear it. Very few authors can pull off good kid characters in UF while as Kaye makes it look easy.

  10. Ah yes it’s always interesting to have children in urban fantasy, because as you say they’re usually a liability. I didn’t know about this one and even though I’m not a big fan on the cover, it sounds interesting and intriguing. thanks for the discovery!

  11. Yes yes and yes! I really loved this book. I agree that the father and son relationship is exceptional. And Shay and her cousins are awesome. Srsly, I might be falling in love with this genre. Great review Carmel!!! 🙂

    • I’m happy that you gave this one a chance, and that you were so pleased with the end results. It’s rare to find strong family units in this genre which gave The Stag Lord a unique twist.

    • It’s published by a smaller press, so it snuck up on a lot of peeps. It’s definitely worth a second look though. I was already familiar with this author’s writing, so it was an easy yes.

  12. Amber Elise  

    I usually hate kids in adult urban fantasies. Usually they always through themselves in the crossfires, or the detract from the romance. And then I always have the fear that they’ll die.

    I’m happy the author took the romance nice and slow. I usually don’t like when it gets all hot and heavy in the first book, because then what’s left for future installments!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  13. Carmel, do you know if this book will be coming to audio? I really hope so, since like you said I shouldn’t let one bad fae series ruin my experience with the entire genre, and I’d really like to read this one after your great review! :]

    • I’m not sure. It’s by a smaller publisher, so it’s hard to say. Feel free to hit the author up on Twitter or by e-mail; she’s really approachable. 🙂