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I Belong

Review: Black Howl by Christina Henry

Title: Black Howl

AuthorChristina Henry

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Madeline Black (Book 3)

Publication Date: February 29, 2012

Format: Paperback, 288 Pages

ISBN-10: 1937007332 (Ace Books)

ISBN-13:  978-1937007331 (Ace Books)

Reviewed by: Sheila


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…

Quick & Dirty: A cautionary be-careful-what-you-wish-for tale.  And undeniable proof that luck does eventually run out.

Opening Sentence: “Legs in the air, heels toward the ceiling.  Crunch, quick!”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The phrase “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it” is good advice.  This book, the third in the Madeline Black urban fantasy series, embodies this old adage well.  It’s full of intentional and unintentional consequences for our heroine, Madeline Black.  You would think that her past actions have taught her caution, but it was not meant to be.  She is as rash and unapologetic as ever.  Her reactions to problems are going to end up costing her, and those she holds dear.

Madeline Black is complicated.  She is an Agent of Death, escorting souls to the Door so that they may pass in peace from this world.  She is considered a friend of the Red Pack of Wisconsin, a group of werewolves that she met in the last book.  She is also the great-granddaughter of Lucifer, the Morningstar, and therefore a big player in the fallen community.  Not that she wants to be, but we don’t get to choose our family.  Speaking of family…

Her father, Lord Azazel, is constantly trying to use Madeline for his own gains, both political and personal.  He demands respect and obedience even though he has yet to earn it from his daughter.  Nathaniel, her unwanted fiancé, is just one of the many reasons Madeline and Azazel don’t get along.  He demands she marry Nathaniel even though she has given her heart to another, Gabriel.  In Azazel’s eyes, Gabriel is unsuitable as a prospective suitor because he is considered a servant and therefore below Madeline.

And when she’s not being maneuvered by her father, Lucifer is trying to do the same.  He wants Madeline to be by his side, working for him, and eventually succeeding him as his heir.  She just wants to be left alone to care for her loved ones.  That includes: Beezle, her household gargoyle, Samiel, Gabriel’s half brother and nephilim, and of course Gabriel himself, her one and only love.  Unfortunately, Madeline is not meant for quiet nights with friends and loved ones.  Will her choice to protect Samiel from Grigori justice (see last book for details on that) doom them all?  Will her love for Gabriel finally bear fruit?  When will Gabriel learn that Madeline doesn’t care about his station in the fallen’s caste system, that she just loves him for himself?  Will they be allowed to stay together or will the fallen decide to take Gabriel away from her, damn the consequences?  Will Beezle ever get his promised doughnuts?

Wade, alpha of the Red Pack of Wisconsin, has been kidnapped along with dozens of werewolf children.  Jude, Wade’s second-in-command, goes to Madeline for help.  There is no love lost between Jude and Madeline, but they work together to find his missing pack mates.  Is her involvement in werewolf business going to end up killing Madeline or someone close to her?  Will she take that chance?

Not only is Madeline playing sleuth to find werewolf kidnappers, she is also trying to discover the reason so many ghosts are turning up around Chicago.  Yes, ghosts are ALWAYS around but none of these were scheduled deaths.  And death is nothing, if not neat and orderly.  These poor souls were not meant to go before their scheduled time and Madeline wants to know why it’s happening.  J.B., her former boss and sometimes friend, gets involved in the investigation.  Why?  There is a chance that his mother, Queen Amarantha of the local faerie court, is connected and he wants to find out the truth.  Can J.B. stand up to his mother if she is involved with the deaths of so many humans?  What will happen if mother and son take opposing sides?  Will they truly try to destroy one another for what they believe is right?  Can Madeline do anything to stop it?

Madeline Black is constantly running from one problem to the next.  There is always another crisis to address just when the last one is taken care of.  She keeps piling up the enemies while not gaining enough support to back her up.  She has not given much thought to all of this.  This series reminds me of the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher or Rachel in the Hallows series by Kim Harrison.  Harry and Rachel also run around making enemies left and right, without thinking about repercussions.  This is the book where Madeline’s recklessness catches up to her.  This is the book where Madeline loses someone important.

I really like this series to date.  It has enough action, suspense, and sarcasm to keep my attention.  I look forward to seeing where Christina Henry takes us next.  Waiting for the next book is going to make me want to “howl”!

Notable Scene:

 “Don’t even think about giving me that passive-aggressive I-am-your-thrall shit,” I said.  “I am not in the mood.”

“But I am your thrall,” Gabriel said tightly.

“Then follow my freaking orders and go home!”  I shouted.  “And stay there, so that we can have a proper argument about this later!”

Gabriel gave me a stony stare, then wordlessly opened a portal and went through it.

Beezle flew from my shoulder to Samiel’s.  “Well, you just stepped in a giant pile of dragon dung.  Have fun cleaning that up.”

I’m so glad that I’m not you, Samiel signed.

“You two are so supportive.  I don’t know what I’d do without you,” I muttered.

The Madeline Black Series:

1. Black Wings

2. Black Night

3. Black Howl 


FTC Advisory: Penguin/Ace Books provided me with a copy of Black Howl.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  I get paid only in hugs and kisses from my little boys.

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Review: Black Howl by Christina Henry, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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