Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Review: Black Lament by Christina Henry

by Christina Henry


RELEASE DATE: 14 February 2013

GENRE: Fiction/Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

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 her 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, which forbids her 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. It should know by now that she isn't the sort to give up without a fight ...


This is the fourth book in Henry's Black Wings series. It picks up immediately after the events in book 3 and I can easily believe readers will have a love/hate relationship with it.

There are Agents of Death, Angels, the Devil, a gargoyle, the fae, vampires, trolls, a strange preying mantis creature and much more. That's a lot of paranormal beings in one book and it's arguable whether this added to the storyline or was a bit overkill. 

I have to confess I'm not the biggest fan of characters like Titania, Oberon and Puck being used as for me, they will forever be associated with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and I find it hard to transpose them anywhere else. Saying that, Henry clearly has her own plans for Puck and hints at what could be an interesting and original backstory for his character. I am definitely looking forwards to learning more about him.

Just as there are a range of different creatures in Black Lament, there are also several storylines running through it. We have Maddy trying to come to terms with Gabriel's death, the shock news of her pregnancy, the realisation that she will have to take drastic action if she wants to be able to protect her baby from not only her enemies but also her family, and trying to fit in her day job with the Agency. That's a lot for anyone to have to deal with but alongside that, and just for good measure, vampires are acting strangely, the Agency sends the Retrievers after Maddy and the rules of the game as she knows them are about to REALLY change. 

There's no getting away from the fact that there's a whole lot of action in this book and for the most part, it works, but there were 2 things that let the story down for me.

Firstly, Maddy's in her first trimester of pregnancy, she should be absolutely exhausted and ridiculously emotional, but she's not, she's fighting a duel with Oberon, battling Charcarian demons, rescuing kidnapped Agents, facing down her father and taking on the Agency. I just couldn't believe she was capable of all of that. I wanted more emotion; more grief, more turmoil, but it wasn't there.

Secondly, Maddy is too perfect. All the men are either in love with her or want to protect her. She can seemingly defeat anyone in a fight. She has just the right set of magical abilities. Does she actually have any flaws? Even the usual - she doesn't take orders well, speaks her mind and has no diplomacy - aren't actually flaws because Maddy actively embraces them. It's actually quite grating that she doesn't even try to avoid getting into fights - how is she going to grow as a character if she always acts/reacts the same way? Surely that will just lead to more of the same?

In spite of the above gripes, I enjoyed Black Lament. It was fast paced. I liked the characters and I thought it had a good ending. Would I read more in this series? Yes. I think the key is to go into it with the right expectations. Think of it as the literary equivalent of The Fast and The Furious; high on action and adrenalin, and you won't go wrong.

Read this if ... you  want lots of action and a quick and easy read

Don't read this if ... you want emotional depth and lots of descriptive passages


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