Wednesday 9 January 2019

BLACK WINGS by Megan Hart

Briella Blake has always been wicked smart. When she’s invited to attend a special school for gifted students, she finally has the chance to focus on a project that begins to consume her – the ability to recreate and save copies of a person’s entire set of memories. Her friendship with a raven that’s as smart as she is leads to conflict with her mother Marian, who is no longer able to deny that there’s something wrong with her child.

I started the year with the first Flame Tree Press ladies of horror release, and this is their second. Since I was lucky enough to get an ARC, I got stuck into it as soon as I could.

From the very beginning, I was intrigued.

Marian Blake's ten-year-old daughter has trouble keeping friends, drives her teachers crazy and is always scribbling in her notebook. She's a smart kid who's always lost in her secret experiments and has a brain that won't stop thinking.

But when she befriends a raven, her behaviour changes completely. She calls the bird her only friend, and seems to talk to him.

When the opportunity for Briella to attend a special school turns into a blessing in disguise for Marian, because her daughter might finally fit in somewhere. Yet, Briella becomes consumed with her secretive experiment, to the point of being obsessed.

At the same time, something unexpected happens to Marian. Something that might push Briella over the edge...

Wow. This is one creepy story about the darker side of motherhood. 

Marian is such an honest character. I liked her instantly, enjoyed reading her inner thoughts and how hard she tried to overcome the endless cycle of guilt. Guilt about how her daughter turned out. Guilt about her husband working so hard. Guilt about not working outside the home. So much guilt she's pretty much drowning in it.

In fact, her guilt is the reason why she ignores so many of the clues so obvious to anyone else. So many of the awful signs pointing towards her daughter's sinister personality and awful manipulations.

Although this was Marian's heartbreaking story, all the other characters are great too. Dean is such a kindhearted man who loves her unconditionally. Tommy is the jerk of an ex who admits something is wrong with their daughter before she's ready. Marian's dad also provided the opposite outlook on the whole faith thing. Amy was the nice and friendly neighbour who offers real friendship because she doesn't see what's coming.

Everyone fit so well together, and provided a truly spooky insight into how far Briella was willing to go.

Speaking of Briella. OMG. She is infuriating and very hard to like. Actually, she's the only character I didn't like. At all. Not once. That little girl was frustrating as hell from the first time she appears, all the way to the end of the book. And it was sad to watch the adults--especially her mother--trying to reason away her evil ways by claiming she was 'gifted'. As if intelligence encourages evil behaviour.

And Onyx. Wow. I love ravens and crows, but this guy was freaky as hell. Yikes.

I seriously enjoyed this book. It was SO engrossing. I was hooked all the way through because the tension was so thick that even when seemingly everyday mundane things were going on, I was waiting for something terrible to happen. And plenty of horrid things do happen in this book, but what makes everything that much more unsettling is how quietly everything happens.

The horror creeps up on you, and I loved that about this story.

Black Wings is a little The Omen, a bit Rosemary's Baby, and a lot awesome. It's disturbing and the tension drips off the page, kept me on the edge of my seat as the nightmare unfolded. I couldn't put it down, found myself racing towards the shocking conclusion.

It's also the really sad story of a mother and the daughter she just can't reach.

I'm very excited about the inclusion of women to this very cool publisher. Don't get me wrong, the guys are great, but these two titles written by ladies of horror are truly outstanding.

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