BLACK WINGS (Black Wings #1)
by Christina Henry
PUBLISHER: Ace Books
RELEASE DATE: 30 Nov 2010
FORMAT: Paperback, 295 pages
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
She’s an Agent of Death who really needs to get a life. As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black is responsible for escorting the souls of the dearly departed to the afterlife. It’s a 24/7 job with a lousy benefits package. Maddy’s position may come with magical powers and an impressive wingspan, but it doesn’t pay the bills. And then there are her infuriating boss, tenant woes, and a cranky, popcorn-loving gargoyle to contend with. Things start looking up, though, when tall, dark, and handsome Gabriel Angeloscuro agrees to rent the empty apartment in Maddy’s building. It’s probably just a coincidence that as soon as he moves in demons appear on the front lawn. But when an unholy monster is unleashed upon the streets of Chicago, Maddy discovers powers she never knew she possessed. Powers linked to a family legacy of tarnished halos. Powers that place her directly between the light of Heaven and the fires of Hell… (Goodreads)
BLACK WINGS by Christina Henry is an enthralling read full of angels and demons, with main character Madeline Black drawn deeper into the supernatural world than she could ever be prepared for.
Our heroine is an Agent of Death, which means that she is given the names of those who are going to die and has to escort their souls to ‘The Door’, giving them the choice of passing over or becoming destined to roam the earth for eternity. She is half-Gregori and half-human, possessing wings that she can summon at will, but further powers start to manifest that are not typical of the abilities possessed by Agents.
This manifestation of powers comes accompanied by Maddy’s new tenant, Gabriel Angeloscuro, who is incredibly handsome and also half-nephilim, a kind of demon. She has never known her father, so when Gabriel turns out to be guarding her on his orders and informs her that he is Lucifer’s right hand man, events take a surprising turn. Maddy becomes a target for all demons who seek vengeance on her father, raising further questions about her lineage, with the onset of mysterious dreams regarding Lucifer creating further problems…
Madeline is a strong and sassy heroine, with a quick wit that often oversteps the mark and offends authority figures. However, she can take some getting used to, as the first person narrative gets off to a shaky start. I wasn’t particularly a fan of her perspective at first, but as the novel went on I felt that this improved, and I became more accustomed to her viewpoint. She certainly holds her own in a male-dominated environment, and I particularly loved the relationship she shares with Beezle, the gargoyle that watches over her home. Most of the humour in the novel comes from Maddy, but behind her bravado is a vulnerable individual who is reaching out for someone to ease the loneliness her job causes.
As for Gabriel, I didn’t have a problem with his personality, as he is a strong fighter and also incredibly sensitive to Madeline’s emotions. He has his own sad history (which I sense will be further explored in future books), which explains a lot about the way he acts, but you can probably sense that all is not as perfect as it appears. I had a great big problem with Gabriel’s physical description. He is described in the same style as many other novels, with this idea of attractiveness being nothing new.
He was a handsome devil. Way beyond handsome, actually. More like the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life. He looked like an Italian Renaissance painter’s ideal figure, from his broad forehead and carved cheekbones to the long, slightly arrogant Roman nose and the tiniest of clefts in his chin.
This sense of description was what really let the book down for me, as I didn’t feel any interest in Gabriel’s attractive appearance, and when Maddy describes herself as nothing special I just lost interest in their connection. This may be because I feel like this is overdone in fiction of late, but either way it made me feel a little disappointed.
However, the book turns everything around at the half-way point, as the plot starts to become faster paced and very exciting. The mysterious dreams that Maddy is having all start to fit together, and the demon attacks occur with increasing frequency as Maddy nears the truth about her ancestry and the demon world. The ending of the novel was definitely worth persevering for, and it turned into a very good read that left me wondering how the plot will continue in the next book.
BLACK WINGS was an interesting read, full of ups and downs as far as my reading experience was concerned. I was a little doubtful in the beginning with the first person narrative and description, but towards the middle the book really started to draw me in and I was compelled to read ‘til the end.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
1. Black Wings
2. Black Night
3. Black Howl
4. Black Lament