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Monday, December 31, 2012

[Review] His Black Wings by Astrid Yrigollen

Title: His Black Wings
Author: Astrid Yrigollen
Pages: 364 (eBook)
Release Date: November 7, 2012

Claren Maidstone has been forced to flee her childhood home after the death of her parents and a vicious assault from a sadistic young man who intends to marry her. Claren changes her identity and finds employment as an assistant to the handsome Fredrick Lowood, a generous yet mysterious benefactor. However, she soon finds out his generosity comes at a price. Fredrick wishes for Claren to befriend his disfigured son who resides in seclusion at their estate, Westwind.

Fredrick Lowood knows what the history books do not teach, that the Grand Council built this new world of peace and beauty on hidden blood and greed. He has plotted for years to bring down the family that enslaved his own people. Suddenly, he has the last living heir in his grasp.

Etrigan Lowood rejects the world that forces him to hide. He is powerful, plagued with a terrible dark beauty: WINGS. It is these wings that carry him out only at night to watch the unwanted intruder in his home. A creature of refined instinct yet little social grace, he is strangely captivated by Claren but knows nothing of how her family’s dark past is intertwined with his own . Through their blossoming friendship, Etrigan realizes he still retains his human heart and yearns for Claren’s love.

Kurten Wandsworth is the only son of the Mayor of St.Marhen. Kurten lives his life fueled by cruelty and lust. Whatever he wants he takes and he wants Claren to be his wife even it if kills her. Scarred by Claren he hunts her down mercilessly until he can set a trap which she will never be able to escape from.

His Black Wings is another Steampunk retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and I really enjoyed it at the beginning. The set up was definitely different with Claren being attacked by a delusional suitor and being taken in by Frederick Lowood who wants a companion for his "deformed" son, Etrigan. However, once Etrigan appears, things started to fall apart for me. I didn't like him at all, or his "you belong to me" attitude toward Claren.

I really liked the setting. It's a Steampunk, futuristic type setting with some fun retro elements (like TV trays!). The world has reverted to a simpler time, where natural remedies take the place of toxic chemicals, and the skies are free from pollution. Horses seem to be the main form of local transportation, both real ones and steam powered metal horses. It's definitely one of the better Steampunk setups that I've read.

This book is another case of switching between first and third person narratives. At first I was relieved that Etrigan's parts were short and far between, since those are the ones that are in third person. Then at some point the entire rest of the book became third person, even when it was clearly back to Claren's POV. There are also a few instances where Claren's chapters will start out in third person and randomly switch back to first, then back to third again. Although I'd say the last third of the book is in third person, the very last paragraph is in first. It's just very poor editing and definitely hurt my enjoyment of a promising story.

I really wanted to love this one, and it started out good, but then the story started dragging and the narrative got confusing. There was no tension and the big climax appeared as an info-dump. Aside from the amazing setting, I also enjoyed the banter between Horace and Bekker. Unfortunately, as a whole this one just did not work for me.

Favorite Quotes

It got to the point where I considered making up absurd things about my Grandfather, like he wore pink nightgowns and hair rollers to bed. But I didn't, because that would not be proper. (pg 14)

Now we are taught that each person is beautiful and unique. Generally, people are now happy with their appearance. (pg 80)

What was love exactly? How was it suppose to feel? (pg 224)

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