Catherine's Reviews > Black Wings

Black Wings by Christina Henry
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Review originally posted at Fiction Vixen

*4.5 Stars*

This book turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise. Urban Fantasy books seem to be hit or miss with me. First person narrative is not a favorite of mine—it makes me feel like I’m living in a vacuum—and too often I don’t like the heroine. It’s hard for me to read and enjoy a book when I’m stuck in the head of someone I don’t particularly like. I’ve also noticed that quite a few heroines seem to be bitchy and argumentative as shorthand for strong. Unfortunately, bitchy does not equal strong for this reader. My point with this surplus of information is that I actually liked this heroine. She hit me just right.

Another strong point in the book’s favor is the lack of love triangle. Thank you Christina Henry for not including that. I hate them! This book has enough tension and roadblocks in the relationship without the added headache of another man.

This was an incredibly quick read. Once the action starts it just doesn’t stop. You’ll find yourself sucked in and unable to set it down until you read just one more chapter. The writing is smooth and the author did a nice job of spicing the narrative with humor. It achieved a nice balance with the action and never strayed into the slapstick.

Maddy felt very real. Her reactions were more in line with a regular person’s, so it was easy to relate to her. There was even one part where she got her ass kicked and threw up from the pain before passing out. Now, you may wonder why vomit stuck out in my mind enough for me to mention it, but it’s just one more example of her atypical UF heroine behavior. She didn’t gracefully get beat up and still manage to not break a nail. Maddy had some knock-down-drag-out fights and she didn’t always win on her own. She doesn’t come out of the fight with her pride untarnished either. Some of those people cleaned her clock! But I liked it because it was way more believable than an invincible bad ass.

I really loved Maddy’s relationship with Beezle. He was so cute and protective. He was just like a grumpy teddy bear that you wanted to cuddle! His interactions with the people who interacted with Maddy were a lot of fun too. I love when characters have that wise talking sidekick, like Bob in the Harry Dresden series.

This is a UF that actually felt like a UF instead of leaning toward a PNR. There was the beginning of a possible romantic relationship, but that was just a small focus in Maddy’s new life. The most sexual contact you’re going to get is a kiss or two. I didn’t mind though—I actually think it made the book better.

The author did a good job of hooking my interest into Gabriel though. The things that we learned about his past made him very sympathetic—especially because he doesn’t seem to recognize that his life should be any different. Also, the reality that they face with Maddy’s new political position makes me invested in seeing them work it out. I’d probably root for them on pure principle even if I didn’t like them together just to thwart a certain someone who thinks that he can rule Maddy’s life now no matter what.

I really liked the details of the world. Maddy’s job really interested me. I especially was intrigued by the politics of it. How interesting! The new political world that she has stepped into also seems like it’ll be quite fascinating to learn more about. The only real complaint I had about this book was the lack of world building. Don’t get me wrong, I understood her world and I enjoyed it, but there was just something missing for me in the development of it. Possibly the author will add depth as the series unfolds a la Kate Daniels.

The only warning I would give is for those that do not enjoy books that play with how bad Lucifer actually is. If you don’t enjoy anything but the traditional role of Hell and fallen angels you might just want to pass on this one. They weren’t presented as boy scouts or anything, but they weren’t quite as reviled as some might prefer. So be warned!

That leads to one last comment I’d like to make about the author’s style. She had a very clean writing style with the occasional flip into a more descriptive, powerful style. I also really liked the way the angels were portrayed as beautiful, but it was almost a terrifying beauty.

pg. 32:
...opened her eyes to find the dark angel blocking out the sky, and all she could see was his awful beauty, haloed in starshine and moonlight, and his black burning eyes. He whispered her name, and his voice wound into her ear and down her throat and under her ribs, and she knew what he had come for.


I just loved the way it was written!

I urge all of you who are interested to go grab a copy of this book and try it out for yourself. Hopefully it works as well for you as it did for me!

Favorite Quote:

pg. 100

His dark eyes were lit by starshine, and I felt I was falling again into the heart of the universe. Not by some spell of Gabriel's, but by my own foolish wants and needs. He had kissed me to save me--this much I understood. But my heart, my very lonely heart, ached for what I had never known before.


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Reading Progress

11/26/2010 page 3
1.0% ""In life and death, Mrs. Luccardi was a small, thin woman with a head of white curls--the kind of old lady my mother used to call a "Q-tip."" - LOL! I'm totally picturing a toned down version of grandma Yetta." 3 comments
11/26/2010 page 10
3.0% ""For a second I wasn't sure if I would turn the knob and let him in or hold it fast so that he could never enter. I felt like I was on the trembling edge of something, that if I allowed him to enter my home, my life would change irrevocably." - Now I'm intrigued. Very interesting first meet." 13 comments
11/26/2010 page 32
11.0% "I like that Maddy threw up from the pain. Have you ever noticed how gracefully UF and PNR heroines are hurt? The gross things are always missing like throwing up because of the excruciating pain, or crying and snotting all over the place because it hurts so bad. A little realism is nice sometimes." 11 comments
11/26/2010 page 52
18.0% "I love Beezle. He's so cranky and cute. Makes me want a gargoyle of my own!"
11/26/2010 page 61
21.0% ""I really wanted to stand up because I felt it would better for my dignity, but Pain and Weariness were ganging up on Dignity, and it decided to retreat in self-preservation."" 2 comments
11/26/2010 page 68
23.0% ""So his kingdom is Hell?" "I suppose that is a name that mortals give it. Although mortal descriptions are generally inaccurate." "Oh, really?" I raised my eyebrows at him. "There was a guy here earlier--he kicked the shit out of me, by the way--and he looked awfully like a 'mortal's description' of a demon. Horns and claws and everything." "I said mortal descriptions are generally inaccurate."" 2 comments
11/26/2010 page 80
27.0% ""Long ago," Beezle intoned, and he sounded so stiff that I giggled. He glared at me and I pressed my lips into an appropriate imitation of solemnity."" 10 comments
11/26/2010 page 100
34.0% ""His dark eyes were lit by starshine, and I felt I was falling again into the heart of the universe. Not by some spell of Gabriel's, but by my own foolish wants and needs. He had kissed me to save me--this much I understood. But my heart, my very lonely heart, ached for what I had never known before."" 5 comments
11/26/2010 page 108
37.0% """When you say that you are consulting with *******, how is it you do that? Do you have some kind of special way of communicating with him?" Gabriel frowned and looked at me. "What do you mean?" "Well, how do you get in touch with him? Are you performing some kind of spell?" He looked very amused as he pulled something out out of his pocket and held it up to me. A tiny silver cell phone." - LOL!"
11/26/2010 page 129
44.0% "Poor, poor Gabriel. What a sad life he's had through no fault of his own. And how sad that he doesn't even contemplate expecting more."
11/26/2010 page 141
48.0% """If I am a murderer," I said through gritted teeth, "don't you think that you should be running out the door right now instead of standing in my living room making ridiculous accusations?" From the look on J.B.'s face, I would say that the thought hadn't occurred to him. Gabriel coughed into his fist. The cough sounded suspiciously like laughter."" 8 comments
11/26/2010 page 150
51.0% ""Beezle fluttered down from his perch on the roof to land on my shoulder. "Did you enjoy the show?" I asked mildly. "The denouement kind of sucked, but up until that point I had high hopes," Beezle said. He glanced around at J.B., who was staring. "What are you looking at, ape?" "An ugly little what-the-fuck-are-you?" J.B. answered, following me up the stairs."
11/26/2010 page 180
61.0% "Wow. Definitely not the first meet I was expecting. Not really shaping up as a character I like." 2 comments
11/26/2010 page 229
78.0% "Argh! How can someone just step into your life one day and think that his edicts are the only ones that matter? I feel claustrophobic on Maddy's behalf!"
11/26/2010 page 248
84.0% ""I never realized just how little self-control I had. My loner lifestyle had left me at a disadvantage. I'd never had to control my temper for the sake of another person, or keep my cool under pressure in a job. For all intents and purposes I had the emotional control of a three-year-old."" 6 comments
11/26/2010 page 274
93.0% ""Oh, my fucking lord, I am blind," I said, and felt bile in my throat. "That was gross. Gross, gross, gross.""

Comments (showing 1-35 of 35) (35 new)

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message 1: by Rane (new) - added it

Rane You updates really have me checking out this book!(It sounded to me like a mix between Grave Witch and First Grave on the Right)


Catherine I haven't read either of those yet (although I'm definitely checking out First Grave on the Right) so I can't say for sure. If you do check it out I hope you enjoy it!


Shera (Book Whispers) Thanks for all the fun updates. I knew I was going to buy it, but now I'm going to haress my book store so they will get it in.


Catherine Shera (Book Whispers) wrote: "Thanks for all the fun updates. I knew I was going to buy it, but now I'm going to haress my book store so they will get it in."

Yeah! I'll watch for your updates once you get it so we can chat about it.


Shera (Book Whispers) Will update!! It's so fun chatting with someone as you read! ^_-


Catherine Completely agree! It's one of my favorite parts of this site!


LethalLovely~Live Through This and You Won't Look Back This sucker FINALLY came out on Kindle. I've spent the past two days checking to see if they would make it available. Yay!


Catherine Are you going to get it?


Shera (Book Whispers) Bought my copy yesterday! Will be reading it next.


Catherine Yeah! I'll have my review posted here in a couple days. It's currently gracing Fiction Vixen.


LethalLovely~Live Through This and You Won't Look Back Catherine wrote: "Are you going to get it?"

Depends on your review. I've got alot of books on my TBR shelf that I need to buy before I start thinking about new acquisitions.


Catherine LethalLovely~So You Goad Me into Spite, It's wrote: "Catherine wrote: "Depends on your review. I've got alot of books on my TBR shelf that I need to buy before I start thinking about new acquisitions."

I posted the link to my review at Fiction Vixen. You can read it there now if you want. If not, it'll be up here in a few more days.


LethalLovely~Live Through This and You Won't Look Back I'll wait until you post it on here. The web page acted wonky when I clicked on the link.


Catherine Okie Dokie. :)


message 15: by Quinn (new) - added it

Quinn Great review, Catherine. I will definitely check this one out.


Catherine Thanks, Quinn. I hope you end up enjoying it too.


message 17: by Dina (new)

Dina Excellent review, Catherine. I'm not a big fan of UF for the same reasons you stated (1st person POV and bitchy heroines), but you got me interested in this book.


Shera (Book Whispers) I second that. Bitchy heroines and POV really are the appeal of UF.


Catherine Dina wrote: "Excellent review, Catherine. I'm not a big fan of UF for the same reasons you stated (1st person POV and bitchy heroines), but you got me interested in this book."

I keep trying UF because sometimes they really work for me and I like the ideas, but I'm usually less than thrilled. I think it's when they start flirting with the line between UF and PNR because then I have a different set of expectations crop up that are usually disappointed.

I hope you like it if you end up picking it up!


Catherine Shera (Book Whispers) wrote: "I second that. Bitchy heroines and POV really are the appeal of UF."

I don't even understand why. Bitchy is more of a turn off than not for me.


Kelly Yeah, and Maddy can be a bitch sometimes, BUT, she has a good mix of strength and vulnerability, and she exhibits a moment of self-awareness later in the book when she realizes she has no impulse control because of the solitary life she's lived. I mean, Anita Blake never seems to notice that *she* has no impulse control.


Shera (Book Whispers) Catherine wrote: "Shera (Book Whispers) wrote: "I second that. Bitchy heroines and POV really are the appeal of UF."

I don't even understand why. Bitchy is more of a turn off than not for me."


Sometimes the bitchiness can be slathered onto thick and smother a good read. I enjoy just the right amount of bitchiness. Say Anita Blake books, or--well my mind is failing me right now.

Any who . . .

I like it to a certain extant. Sarcasm is actually my favorite part of UF, which the genre's writers seem to have plenty of it.


Kelly I love sarcasm, and when it's done well, its terrific. I love Kate Daniels for just that reason. Her sarcasm works because (a) it's funny, and (b) she's badass enough to back up her words with actions. I like it less when the heroine isn't actually funny and/or is just blustering.


Shera (Book Whispers) Yeah, we want character who are bad ass enough to back up that sarcasm.

Characters who are puffing hot air are just annoying.


Catherine Shera (Book Whispers) wrote: "Catherine wrote: "Shera (Book Whispers) wrote: "I second that. Bitchy heroines and POV really are the appeal of UF."

I don't even understand why. Bitchy is more of a turn off than not for me."
..."


I love sarcasm too. Just not too thick. :)


Catherine Kelly wrote: "Yeah, and Maddy can be a bitch sometimes, BUT, she has a good mix of strength and vulnerability, and she exhibits a moment of self-awareness later in the book when she realizes she has no impulse c..."

I agree about it being nice that Maddy was self-aware. I didn't really find her bitchy, but YMMV.


Kelly How about a smartass then? *g*


Catherine Kelly wrote: "How about a smartass then? *g*"

I did see that. :)


Greta is Erikasbuddy Owww!! This looks like a really good read!! And GASP!! no love triangle? Most awesome!!!


Catherine Greta is Erikasbuddy wrote: "Owww!! This looks like a really good read!! And GASP!! no love triangle? Most awesome!!!"

I know, it's almost breaking the UF code. ;P


Greta is Erikasbuddy NICE!!


Shera (Book Whispers) Oh, the words "no love triangle" make me want to cry with joy!!!


Catherine Shera (Book Whispers) wrote: "Oh, the words "no love triangle" make me want to cry with joy!!!"

Me too. I'd rather there was no romance than on who toggles back and forth between men.


Anna (Bobs Her Hair) Affective quote at the end. I like.


Catherine Glad you liked it. :)


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