Author: Christina Henry
Release Date: Oct. 30, 2012
Black Wings #4
(aka Madeline Black #4)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (288 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
NOTE: the book summary and the review (below) contain spoilers from the previous book, Black Howl.
As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black deals with loss every day. But when tragedy touches her own life, Maddy will have to find the strength within to carry on…
Devastated and grieving, Maddy unexpectedly finds hope with the discovery that she is pregnant. But Maddy’s joy is short lived when Lucifer informs her that he wants the baby, hoping to draw on the combined power of two of his bloodlines. Maddy is determined that her grandfather will never have her child, but she’s not sure what she can do to stop him.
Being pregnant is stressful enough, but Maddy suddenly finds herself at odds with the Agency—forbidden from meddling in the affairs of the supernatural courts. When a few of her soul collections go awry, Maddy begins to suspect that the Agency wants to terminate her employment. They should know by now that she isn’t the sort to give up without a fight…
What I’m talking about:
Black Lament jumps back into the story of our heroine, Madeline (Maddy) Black, moments after the emotionally explosive conclusion of the third book in Ms. Henry’s fabulous series. Maddy has recently lost the love of her life, killed by her fallen angle father, Azazel. She is oddly comforted her by great (great…) grand-daddy, Lucifer, until she realizes he wants to keep her little bundle of joy growing in her belly – something else that Maddy just discovered. It is a lot for Maddy to adjust to, including her continually increasing powers born from Lucifer.
Although she wants to just be left alone, Maddy still has a job to do (she is an agent of death and has souls to guide to the “Door.”) To compound her problems, she’s on the hit list of all the major faerie factions after taking out one of their queens (who also happened to be her boss/friend, JB’s mom). Surrounding Maddy is her ever present house guardian gargoyle, Beezle and her friends Jude and Samiel. Adding to the equation is her ex-fiancee (arranged marriage), Nathaniel – there to protector her at the arrangement of Lucifer. Things just aren’t looking up for our heroine. In order to stop the attacks on her life, Maddy decides to take the fight to both the fae and her father.
Once again, the greatest strength of this series is the cast of amazingly well-developed characters. Maddy herself is changing and growing. Not only does she have a larger “family unit” to protect and care for, but soon she will be a mother. She rises to the challenge time and time again. In addition, Maddy’s powers are magnifying in range and intensity. With her recent life transitions, Maddy embraces the “darker” side of these powers, and we see a significant shift in her attitude, strength and demeanor. She’s standing up for herself and those she loves, damned be the rest.
I adore Ms. Henry’s writing style. We go from tough Maddy, to a woman having an emotional break down at the thought of going on without her true love. Then Maddy moves on to outright humorous. The transitions are achingly lovely and emotionally fulfilling. Sometimes there is such tenderness in scenes between Maddy/Jude and Maddy/JB. Both men provide a presence that is a comfort yet tough. I find the range of sentiment and responsiveness within each character is what makes this story and series so amazing. Love it!
Overall the story flows well, with a great pace and balanced mixture of thought vs action. The plot progression is just right – never lagging behind, even with some emotionally-laden scenes. The dialogue is plain fabulous.
There are two things that did bother me while reading. One, I felt at times that “too much” was happening to Maddy. For a while it felt like nothing was going right. I began to worry that the story would become one-sided, with Maddy always fighting and in trouble with someone. However, just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, Ms. Henry pulls out some major boo-yah and WOW! I’m still shaking my head! (And I look forward to reading about the outfall from her actions in future books!)
The second thing is Maddy’s growing “relationship” with Nathaniel. Throughout the story, Nathaniel was actually unselfish and kind (or so it appeared). This caused some confusion in Maddy, who wanted desperately to hold on to her hatred of the man. It annoyed me that she should even feel conflicted emotion. Maddy’s feeling may be confused, but mine aren’t. She just lost her husband. I felt it was WAY TOO SOON for her to even contemplate falling for this man who has betrayed her over and over. I want to know why she can’t just care for him without it meaning she has to let go of Gabriel?! Her husband is only weeks gone, and I felt that some of what happened in Black Lament diminished what Maddy and Gabriel had together.
In the end, this is a good follow up to one of my all-time favorite books. Maddy created some enormous enemies this time around and ticked off just about every paranormal faction (to include her own people). Just as Beezle fears where Maddy is headed, I fear it as well. Black Lament felt like a turning point – a transition – in the overall story arc. There was a lot of change, and I’m not sure how it will sit with me in the long run. Maddy is walking a fine line, and if she falls, I don’t know if I can’t follow her. With that said, I cannot wait to read the next installment!
Liked it – recommend (B+)
Reviews in the Series: