|Title: Black Night
Author: Christina Henry
Series: Madeline Black #2
Cover Art: Kris Keller
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reviewed by: Julia
Kissing,an attempted rape, oblique reference to rape.
Good – A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.
Madeline Black is an Agent of death, meaning she escorts the souls of people who have died to the afterlife. Of course, not everyone is happy to see her…
If obstinate dead people were all that Maddy had to worry about, life would be much easier. But the best-laid plans of Agents and fallen angels often go awry. Deaths are occurring contrary to the natural order, Maddy’s being stalked by foes inside and outside of her family, and her two loves-her bodyguard, Gabriel, and her doughnut-loving gargoyle, Beezle-have disappeared. But because Maddy is Lucifer’s granddaughter, things are expected of her, things like delicate diplomatic missions to other realms.
The Madeline Black series employs a blend of two great, common urban fantasy tropes: the “big reveal” (where a mundane character discovers magic exists) and an open world where magic is commonly accepted. The mix of these two story-lines creates a chemistry that adds new zest to familiar concepts, an energy that I thoroughly enjoy.
In BLACK WINGS, Maddie is an Agent of Death, living and working with people who use magic, but living in a closed world. Like any average (though magical) citizen, Maddie doesn’t know everything there is to know about her world, and in BLACK NIGHT she is still coming to grips with her heritage from the fallen angel side of the family. Maddie’s blind spots and areas of expertise make everything more interesting, and despite all of the revelations of book one, I was excited to find that BLACK NIGHT still found new ground to intrigue and surprise.
As much as I enjoyed Maddie and her gang, however, the narrative structure made surprises harder and harder to find as the book progressed. At regular intervals throughout BLACK NIGHT some knowledgeable person would point out a danger or give Maddie advice, just to have her do the exact opposite. Inevitably, Maddie would survive by the seat of her pants (or the convenient intervention of her new, half-breed magic). Though my complaint is definitely not Maddie’s survival (she’s great), I did grow tired of the predictable pattern of something being “impossible” or “dangerous” or “ill-advised”, and one paragraph later Maddie would charge straight into it the thick of it and live. This repetition had the unfortunate side effect of making it difficult to take any of the magical threats she faced seriously (and ultimately that knocked the book down from Four Bats to Three).
Political threats are the only things that seem to slow Maddie down, and BLACK NIGHT does give us an opportunity to see her hold her own in that arena through skill rather than chance. By book’s end, Maddie sounds confident, savvy and adult, and I am very excited to see how events unfold in BLACK HOWL (look for it on February 28, 2012). My fingers are crossed that the entourage will acknowledge that Maddie is going to keep kicking butt and taking names no matter what they say and dial back the fruitless doom and gloom. Maybe they’ll surprise me.