Finished Date: March 25th, 2012
Format: eCopy for Review
Series: Madeline Black #3
My Rating: 3/5
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I was hard-pressed to get the ARC of BLACK HOWL after reading book 2, BLACK NIGHT, which was amazingly engrossing, and looking at that cover? It potrays everything that I thought Maddy was - strong, badass and all ready to kick some demon butt. I was going crazy waiting for a reply from Henry's publisher (it took 1 to 2 days, but it was like a small eternity to me at the time), and when I got it, I jumped into it as soon as I could.
All that said, I'll be honest and say that BLACK HOWL did not meet my expectations. There were parts of it that dragged, were dull or just really monotonous.
HOWL started off slowly, with our heroine, Madeline "Maddy" Black, doing her first and foremost duty of being an Agent of Death, leading some poor soul who had a heart attack to The Door. However, much like the previous two instalments, her life takes a serious nose-dive straight off the beginning. It started with a visit from the infamously hostile Jude, second-in-command of the local wolf pack. Looks like Wade (alpha of said wolf pack) and the kids were gone, and one of the last things Wade told Jude to do was look for Maddy if something went wrong. Jude's not going to defy his alpha, even if it means visiting one of Lucifer's spawn, whom he hates with a terrible vengeance. Being the compassionate soul that she was, she agrees to help him even when Jude was being all rude and annoying. Now that's actually putting it lightly when all he does is question her, threaten to kill her, insult her, and express his reluctance to cooperate when SHE was the one helping HIM. Seriously, I don't see why Maddy puts up with his shit.
But anyway, along with J.B, Beezle, and an aloof Gabriel, they set off through a demon portal at the site where Wade and the cubs disappeared and starts to look for clues. Along the way, many curveballs are thrown at them, which I shall not spoiler, including twists in her ever-confusing love life.
Speaking of love life, everything happened so fast! Gabriel was actually being his mercurial self - one moment aloof, distant and annoying, another hot, passionate, and protective - when something happened that changed him and Maddy forever. And that something happened to be one of Lucifer's scheming plans. It was a real shocker, and one I didn't know how I felt about because it was quite literally thrown into my face. And then when the ending came... Let's just say that I wasn't too happy about it. That's putting it lightly; More like, furious and mortified; It was totally uncalled for! I can't believe Henry could be so cruel! All I can say is, it wasn't a happily ever after, and I'm holding onto my hope that there is something bigger planned for Maddy. Something fantastical and phenomenal that will either eclipse what happened or reverse what transpired, or really, heads will start to roll. The only good thing about the ending was how beautifully it was written. Vivid descriptions which it evoked deep feelings within me and made me cry a little.
I mentioned that HOWL was slow-paced, and that encompasses many aspects of the book - the action, plot, and romance. Oftentimes, there wasn't much progression, or if there were, there would be an interruption and everything would revert back to square one (referring to a certain making-out scene). Henry tends to describe too much sometimes, about the scenery, the details and whatnot. Like in Amarantha's castle laying in ruins (find out why it's in shambles yerself, lads ;P), the forest, and others. Imagery is important, yeah ok, but anything in overdose is still an overdose. Henry's writing style, though, is quite typical of an Urban-Fantasy author. The same first-person "I" of a snarky heroine.
The characters were pretty much the same as in the other books - Maddy: Tough, badass, sometimes too kind for her own good; Beezle: Cute, sarcastic, just the way I love him; J.B: Annoying boss, sexy love interest. The only two characters that changed much was Jude and Gabriel. Jude was initially still being an out-of-this-world pain-in-the-butt, but as the story progressed, there were things that were revealed that justified his annoying ways. At the end, I was actually starting to like him. Gabriel...ugh, let's not start about him. He was, I don't know how, even more annoyingly indifferent to Maddy. He keeps trying to distance himself from her in this way that makes me want to reach into the book, strangle him and give him a piece of my mind to "treat the woman nicer!" I know what he's doing is to follow the law, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Maddy's screwing the law for him, why can't he do the same? But then, there was that shockingly epic thing that happened which I mentioned in Paragraph 5, and he changed drastically. It was kind of unnerving, but it was definitely an improvement to how he was treating Maddy. (Let me enlighten you a little: He was giving in to his passion for her! Finally!)
Nathaniel was back, and his intentions seemed to be genuine and sincere initially, but Maddy just had to continue bringing up the past. A past where an illusion of Nathaniel had debased her. An event that came to past with Natheniel being powerless to stop. So she shouldn't be such a bitch to him over it since he had no hand in whatever happened.. He is the proud right hand angel of Azazel, after all. He's handsome, powerful, and wealthy, and she practically trampled all over him, which made him change in demeanour quite drastically. I was rooting for him actually, even though he isn't as morally upright as Gabriel, but at least Natheniel had a backbone and had fought for what he wanted, not cower and hide like Gabriel.
All in all, I was numb when the book ended because seriously, anyone else would too. It was unexpected to say the least, more like a punch-in-the-face jack-in-the-box. I'm holding out on my judgement for this, and I'm expecting something big to salvage the situation. Real big. It was a major cliffhanger, and because of which I do recommend that if you haven't read HOWL, you'd better wait for BLACK LAMENT (which happens to have a very nice cover! Very nice cover, indeed. ;) to be out first before you start on it.
*eARC courtesy of Ace via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.