Thursday, March 08, 2012

Review - Black Howl by Christina Henry - 4 Qwills

Black Howl
Author:  Christina Henry
Series:  Black Wings
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher:  Ace (February 28, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Review Copy:  Provided by Publisher.

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...

My thoughts:

Black Howl is the 3rd novel in the Black Wings series. Maddy Black is an Agent of Death. If you've read the prior two novels, you'll know that the Agents work for a huge bureaucracy. They receive a list of souls that they are assigned to each week. The Agents know where/when to appear to give the soul a choice of going to The Door. There is paperwork to be filled out after each death.  Deaths not on the list are considered not in the natural order of things.

Maddy is also the granddaughter (with several greats) of Lucifer, the Fallen angel. The Fallen's world can be violent, but it's also very political and very rigid. There is a lot of scheming and maneuvering for power. Maddy appears to be a pawn as well as a huge unknown so a lot of the scheming and violence center on her. Let's just say that most of her relatives in the Fallen world are not on her side. Lucifer has plans for her too.

Maddy's life in Chicago as an Agent and in the world of the Fallen and other supernatural beings has been well developed over the first two novels in the series. She's faced some very difficult challenges and discovered inner emotional strength though she still is sometimes unsure of herself. She also has started to learn to control her supernatural powers even though the full extent of those are not yet known.  Maddy is thrown into some very difficult situations. I like her burgeoning belief in herself and her abilities.

Maddy does have a small group on her side - Beezle (Maddy's little gargoyle, protector and dear friend), Gabriel (her bodyguard, now thrall), J.B. (her boss), and a few others. Each of these characters is very well done and endearing in their own ways. The villains are suitably evil and horrible.

A good deal of tension is generated by the relationship between Gabriel and Maddy. They'd like to be together, but due to Fallen world rules they can not.  While not THE focus of the the novels, Maddy's love-life (or lack thereof) is a focus. In Black Howl, there is a huge high point and a huge low point with regard to love for Maddy.  I was so invested in Maddy that I felt the high and the low along with her.

Against all this Maddy has to help solve the mystery of odd behaved ghosts (souls who don't go to The Door) and who were not scheduled for death, missing werewolves, and more Fallen world intrigues. Black Howl is an action packed sometimes emotional roller coaster with a well-developed world and truly engaging characters.

I give Black Howl 4 Qwills.

I strongly suggest that the Black Wings series be read in order.

The prior two books in the series:


  1. Important to have a few on your side, good for comic relief and all =)

  2. A fresh take on urban fantasy and a highly enjoyable read. Read it in one day and it was the perfect way to spend the day after Thanksgiving. The heroine is gutsy and funny, the love interest is hot and heavenly, the talking gargoyle is a curmudgeonly lovable sidekick; and we can all relate to her having an anal retentive boss that works your last nerve. The plot moves at a nice quick pace and the story is well developed with enough background information to explain the event but not overwhelm the current action. If you are tired of the same old vampire or shapeshifter stories rehashed over and over then this is the book for you. Maddy Black is an Agent of Death whose job is to escort souls to the after life (not a single vampire or shapeshifter in the book - yeah for originality!