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Review: Black Howl

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Black Howl
Author: Christina Henry 
Release Date: Feb. 28, 2012
Publisher: ACE
Black Wings #3
(aka Madeline Black #3)
ISBN: #978-1937007331
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (288 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher

About the book:

      Something is wrong with the souls of Chicago’s dead. Ghosts are walking the streets, and Agent of Death Madeline Black’s exasperating boss wants her to figure out why. And while work is bad enough, Maddy has a plethora of personal problems too. Now that Gabriel has been assigned as her thrall, their relationship has hit an impasse. At least her sleazy ex-fiance Nathaniel is out of the picture–or so she thinks…

What Im talking about:

      Black Howl is the third book in what is coming to be one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series. Madeline Black is an agent of Death – she helps usher the souls of recently departed people (and other supernatural beings) to “the Door.” In the previous two books, we’ve discovered that Madeline is also the daughter of Fallen Angel Azazel and the great (great…) granddaughter of Lucifer.
      Book three opens with Maddy doing her duties, when she notices a peculiar-acting errant soul/ghost. She learns from her friend and boss, JB, that this has been happening fairly frequently.  In addition, she finds out that her friend and leader of the local werewolf pack, Wade, has been abducted, along with several cubs. Add this to her already crazy life and things get explosive (literally)! Maddy, along with side-kick gargoyle: Beezle, ex-body guard-turned-thrall: Gabriel, second-in-command of wolf pack, Jude, newly found “brother”: Samiel, and JB are out to figure out who is behind the sinister plots. What they discover, however, threatens to change the world for all human and supernatural kind.
      This book was fabulous! First I want to mention the plot/s. WOW! Although it can be a bit tough to remember who’s who with all of the Fallens, Fae, wolves and other creatures, the twists and turns in this book make for one heck of a ride. I seriously could not put down the book. It is intense, action-packed, and had me on my toes – never knowing what would happen next. The storyline is well developed, and the twists never felt contrived. I loved it! Some of the developments just blew me away as pieces of the plot were unveiled at the perfect pace.
      Next… characters. This book has them. We’ve meet and gotten to know the gang over the course of the first two books, but it is in Black Howl that each comes into his/her own. Jude: I was annoyed with this wolf – carrying a chip on his shoulder and never cutting Maddy a break. WOW did we learn a lot about him, and his development over the course of the story is heart-warming.
      Beezel is the perfect comic relief/color commentator. I love this stoney gargoyle with all of his quirks and biting humor. But underneath the complaints and stabs is a trusted advisor and friend with huge heart. He cares deeply about Maddy and her well-being. He is the father-figure Maddy never had growing up.
      Now, a few words about Gabriel. We’ve known for two books that Maddy and Gabriel share an unrequited passion, which they cannot ever act on without retribution from the highest leaders in Lucifer’s kingdom. After Maddy saved Gabriel (in book 2: Black Night), he became her slave. Gabriel takes his place in Lucifer’s kingdom, and the archaic rules that go with it, very seriously. He’s basically tossing it back in Maddy’s face that he is now HER slave. It’s heart-breaking.
      But then, something happens. First we get an unexpected look into Gabriel’s heart. He professes his undying love for Maddy and my jaw was left hanging. I kept waiting for him to say “just kidding,” or some other cruel joke. Then, a bit later, Lucifer pays a visit to Maddy and Gabriel, and, well… I’m not one for spoilers, so you are just going to have to read what happens. But I assure you – you will totally swoon!
      The growing relationship between Gabriel and Maddy is sweet. Their star-crossed love is perfect for an Urban Fantasy story. It doesn’t dominate the story, but it is important. To see them have the opportunity to express their true feelings was wonderful… Since only get Maddy’s POV, to hear Gabriel’s words were touching.
      Other characters are equally important in this amazing tale. JB’s mom, the Fae-Queen Amarantha, Maddy’s ex-fiance Nathaniel, and most importantly Maddy’s father Azazel command your attention. Their intricately woven plans reveal the true nature of everyone involved. The twists involving Azazel are by far the best in the book. I am still amazed at what he has going down!
      There are a couple of key climatic battles near the end of the story. One involves the nephilim, which killed Maddy in an earlier book. I liked the battle, but for as horrific as these creatures are, I felt that the battle was a little lacking. However, I never left the edge of my seat the entire time!
      The other conflict was short, but dramatic and changed the entire direction of the story. The moments following this key part of the book were very touching and had me in tears. JB and Jude’s characters were both superbly written and made this story a step above the rest.
      Overall, Black Howl is amazing. The story is riveting, complex and rich with details, humor and action. The twists and turns are complex but not overwhelming. The plot is emotionally satisfying.  Maddy has grown up–she learned to take charge and make the tough decisions. Her growing friendships with Samiel, Jude and JB -even with grand-daddy, Lucifier are fantastic. I cannot wait for the next book!

My Rating:

Personal favorite – a must read (A+)

 
 
 
Series/Purchase Info:
Black Wings (Black Wings 1)
Black Night (Black Wings 2)
Black Howl (Black Wings 3)
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