I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent.
Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.
A+ Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A- Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+ Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B- Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+ Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C- Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish
updated July 9, 2015
4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Review copy provided by publisher.
When we last saw our heroine Madeline (Maddy) Black, her life was in imminent peril, with the infamous Agency Retrievers coming to destroy her soul. Not only had Maddy left the Agency (something unheard of) where she was an Agent of Death, but she had broken the rules by crossing over into the land of the dead. Black Heart begins at full throttle, and it takes a while until Maddy can catch her breath. Hoping to save Maddy, her one remaining friend Nathaniel tosses her through a portal to an unknown land. Her she begins her long journey back home.
While I adore the Black Wings series, there have been a couple of reoccurring themes in the past two books that didn’t sit well with me. First, it bothers me that the author seems to be pushing Nathaniel and Maddy together, even though it’s only been a couple of weeks since her beloved husband (and father of her unborn child) Gabriel died. Second, I have been uneasy with the amount of darkness and bad karma that has descended upon Maddy. I am happy to report that both of these concerns are addressed in Black Heart. While I may not be completely happy with all of the outcomes, I am grateful for what I feel is a much more balanced book. The dark and light are more equally featured as Maddy continues her battles just to survive another day.
The first part of the book is a bit different than the previous novels: Maddy is basically on her own. One of the best things about this series is the camaraderie and companionship of her make-shift family. Unfortunately for Maddy, they all abandoned her in the previous book. While she is forced to be on her own by circumstance (being tossed into a strange land), her memories of what happened just before she left renders her emotionally alone as well.
However, there is life on this planet and Maddy soon bonds with a mysterious Dragon and is held captive by some strange Fae-type creatures. She also uncovers a horrific plot by the Faery Queen, Titania, to use the large bug-like Cimice, which we saw in a previous story. While this may seem like the story is all over the place, let me assure you, it most certainly is not. The plot is tight and several pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place - including bits and pieces from prior stories. There is more than one “AH HA” or “OMG” moment in Black Heart as the story unfolds.
As I mentioned, Black Heart is a more balance story than that of late. Even though Maddy’s darkness and powers are growing, she is consciously aware of the blackness in her heart and desire to destroy. She even comments that this much be how Lucifer feels all of the time. Her self-awareness remains strong, even during times when she is killing. For the first time in a while, Maddy mourns the lives she takes. This added dimension of her evolving character allows me to once again care about her without the cringe-factor or worry she’s going to the dark side. She also does address her feelings for Gabriel as well as Nathaniel - but I don’t want to give any spoilers, so that’s all I’m going to say.
We finally meet the fourth ancient brother, Maddy’s great-uncle, Daharan (brother to Puck, Lucifer, Alerian). I really like Daharan, and I just hope he is not going to be like the other brothers. Daharan seems to genuinely care for Maddy and is dismayed at his brothers’ treatment of Maddy. He offers her kindness and compassion, while keeping her grounded. When Maddy questions if her efforts are worth it, he tells Maddy she has her part to play, but she is a small cog in the very large machine. He’s doesn’t sugar coat anything, and he doesn’t seem to want to use Maddy either.
The story shifts back to Chicago after Maddy makes her way back home. The world is a different place, which fits because there is a new Maddy. At home she reunites with her gargoyle sidekick, Beezle, as well as others from her gang. I still love Beezle and the light-hearted banter the pair share. He is comic relief and Maddy’s conscious all in one.
Once Maddy returns home, the story picks up rapidly and the bigger picture clicks into place one bit at a time. The story is jaw-dropping and utterly masterful as each piece comes together. The final climatic battle is well-played out and the repercussions will be endless.
Black Heart is an entertaining tale, full of ups and downs, quiet moments and large-scale battles. Although I’m not completely happy with everything that happens in the book, I still enjoyed the overall story immensely. I liked watching Maddy dip into her dark powers yet still feel the desire to be good and keep the darkness in check. I felt the entire story had a better overall balance between light and dark, good and bad, triumphs and heartaches, which hasn’t been present for a while now.