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His Black Wings Kindle Edition
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I will admit that I expected the story to be more childish, or for a younger YA audience than it is, based on the cover. Etrigan and Claren look so young in the picture, but are actually in their early twenties and the book starts with an attempted rape (not really kiddie stuff). I was tempted at one point to argue this would be better labelled New Adult than Young Adult, and I think that argument probably can be made for the first half. However, after a fairly lengthy info dump at about 70% through, the whole feel of the book really takes on the shallow characteristics of a YA.
I don't mean shallow as an insult, but rather the way YA books often tend to avoid dark outcomes and deep moral quandaries by allowing every circumstance and character an easy, happy solution. I'll be honest, I actually hate this aspect of YA. It's part of what makes me take long breaks from the genre. But I'd obviously never punish a book for matching it's genre. Having said that, all the good-natured hearts and flowers that popped up all over the place toward the end of this book did cause me to squirm a bit.
The story does seem to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (as the description says), but since it takes on a bit of a dystopian, steampunk setting it strays far enough from it's progenitor to feel original. There were times that I wished it would choose one or the other for consistencies sake though. The introduction of robots and steam cars seemed out of place, with the beginnings rather Victorian environs, and then later with technology that could implant encyclopaedic knowledge in one's mind in seconds.
There were also a few POV and narration inconsistencies. The book was predominantly told in third person, but every once in a while an anomalous first person narrator comment would pop up and confuse me. Along with the mentioned info dump, that really caused 15 or so percent of the book to really drag, and a questionable lack of commas I have very few other complaints. I enjoyed the story.
I liked that Claren was willing to stand up for herself and appeared to be smart enough to read a situation for what it was. She also was perfectly able to read others, meaning that she didn't pull the common heroine habit of constantly wondering about someone's feelings or motives when they are perfectly obvious. Etrigan on the other hand seemed deliciously fragile. He showed a little beastly backbone at the end, but for most of the book 'cute' would be a much better adjective to describe him. There were a slew of colourful side characters, namely Horace, Dekker and Mrs. Whitby, and well as minor main characters (Frederick and Kurten). They all played their part well and helped flesh the book out, without cluttering it up.
All-in-all I may have let this one linger on the shelf until I was able to face a YA HEA, but having finally given it a read, I find myself happy to have given it the time. For those who like original retellings of fairy tales or blending of genres this one is worth picking up.
'His Black Wings' is a gem of a book - and makes me feel lucky to be a reviewer!!!
I really enjoyed the confused view of fantastical Victorian England which Astrid Yrigollen creates and the way in which Claren does not fit either category - she is not shocked by anything out of the ordinary but she is now living her life slightly outside the rules of 'proper' society.
Admittedly I was at first concerned for her safety when she went to work for Mr Lowood but then he showed signs of wanting to take care of her. However much I doubted him I was still surprised by the turn the story line took and think Astrid Yrigollen's timing was perfect in relation to how she let this play out.
Claren and Etrigan's story is a beautiful one - after being shut away voluntarily for years due to his extreme disfigurement Etrigan does not understand what love is, though he knows anger and unhappiness - and when Claren appears in his home he acts like a spoilt child rather than trying to befriend her.
This story is about empowerment, finding love and the importance of friendship - in a world that is not quite fantasy but also not real. I really love this book and to me the characters of Claren. Etrigan, Hector and Dekker stood out.
I look forward to reading this book again soon and hope I have encouraged others to look up 'His Black Wings' too
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