Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Release date: February 28th 2012
Series: Madeline Black #3
Source: Personal Shelf
Reviewed by: Christine
Something is wrong with the souls of Chicago’s dead. Ghosts are walking the streets, and Agent of Death Madeline Black’s exasperating boss wants her to figure out why. And while work is bad enough, Maddy has a plethora of personal problems too. Now that Gabriel has been assigned as her thrall, their relationship has hit an impasse. At least her sleazy ex-fiancé Nathaniel is out of the picture–or so she thinks.
I’ve been a fan of Christina Henry since her very first book, Black Wings. She just knows how to write good urban fantasy with non-stop action, likeable characters and the right touch of romance.
In Black Howl, Maddy who is an Agent of Death and responsible for escorting the souls of the dead to the Door, has a lot on her plate. She is asked to help a pack of werewolves whose cubs have gone missing, while trying to stay under her father’s and her grandfather’s radar. On top of all that, Chicago’s ghosts are acting really weird.
Maddy hasn’t changed or grown much character-wise: she is still a little bit too reckless for her own good and acts rashly more often than is safe for her. This unhealthy habit maneuvers her into more than one tight spot. I sometimes wished she would think about the consequences for just one second. Her rushing into a situation while knowing it is a bad idea can be very frustrating for the reader. I often felt like screaming at her to act more level-headed.
The relationship between her and Gabriel, the love of her life, has never been an easy one. But ever since the events of the previous books, it is put under even more pressure. Being her thrall now, Gabriel has to do everything Maddy wants. Even though she doesn’t abuse the power she has over him, Gabriel often lashes out at Maddy (if you ask me, he suffers from some kind of inferiority complex). Still, Christina Henry creates a few scenes where they move forward as a couple; some of said scenes are romantic, some rather tragic, but each one really moved me and made me feel for Maddy and Gabriel.
Beezle has to be one of the funniest and snarkiest sidekicks I have ever encountered and I´m not ashamed to admit that he is my favorite character in this series. His snarky comments, constant craving for doughnut and his ability to sleep at the strangest of times make him very endearing and add a comic relief to some of the darker scenes.
Another highly interesting character is Jude, the shifter who asks for Maddy’s help. At first I was a bit reluctant to like him because of his unapologetic, accusatory behavior towards Maddy, but after a jaw dropping revelation about his past, I’m now more than eager to learn more about him.
The supernatural world in Christina Henry’s Chicago might not be too complex, but the politics surely are. You can´t help but feel bad for Madeline, since everyone seems to see her only as a pawn. Every situation and plight she stumbles upon seems to have been planned ahead by one of the power players around her, in order to provoke something they want. That’s really sad, since everything Maddy wants is to be left alone with her “family”. On the other hand, it also adds up to a very interesting story with many, intricately woven story arcs that combine in one final, cataclysmic event.
The end of Black Howl came as a shock, both for Maddy and for me. She has to learn that eventually, her luck runs out and her rash actions will have consequences. I´m not sure how the next book will continue and if what happened is actually final. I can´t wait to find out!
Once again, Christina Henry has written an enthralling and riveting story with compelling and funny characters and a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Highly recommended for all lovers of urban fantasy series!
Eager of a taste of Maddy and her motely crew? Read the first chapter of the Black Howl here.