Review: Black City by Christina Henry

Posted March 1, 2013 by Jen in 4 stars, Rating A, Urban Fantasy Tags: , , , ,

Black City
Author: Christina Henry 
Release Date: Feb. 26, 2013
Publisher: ACE
Black Wings #5
(Madeline Black)
ISBN: #978-0425256589
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (288 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/ NetGalley

About the book:

      Former Agent of death Madeline Black may have been stripped of her wings—but she hasn’t lost her purpose… 
      When Maddy finally killed her father, Azazel, she thought his depraved experiment died with him. But now Chicago has been infested with vampires immune to the effects of the sun, and the bloodbath is worse than she could have ever imagined. While the Agency refuses to interfere with other supernatural courts, Maddy is determined to do everything within her power to save her city—wings or no wings.
      But when the leader of the vampires requests that she turn herself in or risk more deaths, Maddy becomes a target for the very people she’s trying to save. Left with no other choice, she turns to Lucifer, the one creature who has the power to help her. But her grandfather’s aid has always come at a price…

What I’m talking about:

      Okay, I just need to say… if you aren’t reading the Black Wings (aka Madeline Black) series, you really should be. On whole, the series is just fabulous, and the current release only adds strength to the overall story arc. Maddy is a complex, kick-butt heroine, and her band of cohorts add the right mix of humor, conscience, and support to keep our heroine grounded and mostly sane.
      Black City opens with a complete bang, sucking the reader into the story with intense and gruesome action. Downtown Chicago is being overrun by day-walking vampires, created from a formula Maddy’s dad, Azazel, was working on before she killed him. There are literally thousands of vampires massacring civilians in plain view of the public (and media). Maddy and her crew try to stop them, but they can’t make a dent. And now that the world knows about the supernatural that walk among them, Maddy has an even bigger-than-normal target on her back.
      From the moment the book begins to the cliff-hangerish ending, Black City grips the reader and does not slow down. However, I’m finding that I’m having a difficult time writing this review for a few reasons. 1) This story really isn’t best as a stand alone read and requires knowledge and the emotional connection gained from reading the first four books. 2) I am fearful of giving away spoilers because so much happens during the course of this story. and 3) Honestly, I struggled with the direction the story took many times throughout the book – not in the quality of the plot lines, which were once again superb, but rather in the content and how I wanted to see things play out.
      Black City is a game changer with major revelations. I wanted to hate this book because I was not happy with probably 60 to 80% of the actions in the story. Yet I can’t hate it. I have become so attached to Maddy. I need to find out what will become of her and her friends. Like one of my favorite heroines of all time, Buffy Summers, Maddy has been given the powers of the Universe coupled with the weight of saving humanity. Sometimes she has to make unpopular and difficult choices. The thankless job was thrust upon her, and although she is up for the task, in the end it may cost her everything. Emotionally, Black City was very, very difficult, but engaging and powerful read. Like I said, I wanted to hate it. But I just can’t.
      What I did like and actually loved about the story is the continuing humor, sharp wit, and character interactions between Maddy and her companions. I’ve grown to care for them all, even her once nemesis, Nathaniel. I enjoy watching each individual grow and learn to trust one another. The protectiveness of Maddy’s gargoyle and extended family warms my heart.
      I also enjoy the intense action and continual world-building from Ms. Henry. I will not lie, this one has a LOT going on, and I recommend taking notes for future reference. But for those invested in the series, the information revealed does not feel overwhelming and is actually quite thrilling.
      However, I did grapple with two overall themes that played throughout the book. The first started in the previous book, Black Lament, and continued throughout all of Black City. I have issues with the strong push to pair Maddy with Nathaniel. Maddy’s true love and father of her unborn child, Gabriel, has only been dead a  few short weeks. Yet the story keeps shoving Nathaniel and Maddy together. I don’t care if the power of their combined magic is overwhelming. I question why put Maddy in a position where she even has to feel guilty over her feelings?! It’s unwanted drama that for me, is mucking up such a great UF story. With that said, I am happy that Ms. Henry took the time to develop more justification for the direction of the story, even if I’m not happy with it.
      The other theme that I’m not fond of is the darkness that seems to be following Maddy. Just when I couldn’t imagine things getting any worse for her, they would and did. It was heartbreaking and difficult at times to see more and more get thrown at a character I care about. Again, it’s not a huge detriment to the book, but it did wear on me as the book progressed. I felt like I hit a point where I didn’t think I could take any more. As I mentioned earlier, this book is an emotionally difficult one for those invested in the series.
      So in the end, I let this book stew in my mind and heart before I wrote the review. And after some time passed, even though I’m still not on board with all that went down, the “good” outweighed the “bad,” and I feel satisfied with the overall story. Although so much happens: reveals about long-time characters, the world turned upside down, every bad guy after Maddy all making an appearance, and new players are introduced, it is a journey worth traveling. And I cannot wait for the Fall release of the follow up book, Black Heart. I just hope that maybe things will slow down a little for Maddy, giving us all a moment to breathe. 

My Rating:

Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)
(for readers of the series)
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