Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review - Black Wings (Madeline Black, Book 1) by Christina Henry (4/5 stars)

Black WingsReading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 304 pages
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: November 30, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0441019632
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in Madeline Black series
Source: ARC from Book it Forward ARC Tours
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got a proof of this book to read through Book it Forward ARC Tours.  This is the first of the Madeline Black books by Henry.  The second is going to be titled Black Night and is scheduled for a July 2011 release.  I enjoyed this book; I really liked the world and the premise.  The heroine took me a bit to get used to, she seemed a bit generic at first, but by the end of the book she had really grown on me.

Maddy works as an Agent, she offers dead souls a dwell on earth or enter The Door.  It is a position she inherited from her mother and one that she can't also doesn't pay very well.  Maddy lives with her protector, a foul-tempered gargoyle, and writes articles for cooking magazines to make money on the side.  When a strange man offers to rent the apartment below her and her best friend is hunted down by a horrible creature things get a lot more complicated for Maddy.

I'll be honest I had a little trouble getting into this book.  Maddy seemed a bit generic to me at first.  She was kind of your standard smart-mouthed, can kind of kick-butt, urban fantasy heroine with a lack of social life.  If you read a lot of urban fantasy, you know the type I am talking about.  As the book went on though she started to grow on me and, by the end I was very engaged with her.

That being said my favorite character by far is the gargoyle, he is funny and provides a lot of laughs.  For some reason I love books with gargoyles.  Maddy and Gabriel (the beautiful man who rents the apartment below her) have great chemistry and you are really pulling for them throughout the book.  They keep things pretty platonic but still manage to have some steamy and tense scenes; although this book is very much an urban fantasy (as apposed to paranormal romance). There are a number of interesting baddies, and a lot of characters that are many shades of grey.

The strongest point of the book is the world-building and plot.  The plot keeps you guessing and is very detailed and well-woven.  The world is similarly intricate and very intriguing.  There is mention of other supernaturals but this book focuses mainly on fallen angels and demons without being overly religious.  Maddy's powers as an Agent reminded me a lot of the TV series Dead Like Me in how they are handled and with how bureaucratic they are.  The action scenes are well done and paced as well.

I enjoyed Maddy's unpredictable power, the complex world of fallen angels, and the fast pace of the plot.  The book was hard to put down.  Things wrapped up nicely at the end, but there were some major things left unsolved and this was very much an intro book to this world. I hope future books better develop some of the wonderful secondary characters.

Overall a very solid urban fantasy debut.  Those who enjoy smart-mouthed females who can kick some serious butt will love this.  Those who enjoy angel/demon mythos in an urban fantasy setting will also find lots here to like.  I would also recommend the Remy Chandler series by Thomas Sniegoski to those who enjoy this book.  Remy Chandler has a similar angel/demon mythos and the series is very well done.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge
- 100+ Reading Challenge

Black Wings 

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