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Black Wings
Cover of Black Wings
Black Wings
Black Wings Series, Book 1
The first novel of the Black Wings urban fantasy series, by Christina Henry, author of Alice and Lost Boy.
As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black is responsible for escorting the souls of the dearly departed to the afterlife. It's a 24/7 job with a lousy benefits package.

Maddy's position may come with magical abilities and an impressive wingspan, but it doesn't pay the bills. And then, there are her infuriating boss, tenant woes, and a cranky, popcorn-loving gargoyle to contend with.

Things starts looking up, though, when tall, dark, and handsome Gabriel Angeloscuro agrees to rent the empty apartment in Maddy's building. It's probably just a coincidence that as soon as he moves in, demons appear on the front lawn. But when an unholy monster is unleashed upon the streets of Chicago, Maddy discovers powers she never knew she possessed. Powers linked to a family legacy of tarnished halos.

Powers that place her directly between the light of Heaven, and the fires of Hell...
The first novel of the Black Wings urban fantasy series, by Christina Henry, author of Alice and Lost Boy.
As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black is responsible for escorting the souls of the dearly departed to the afterlife. It's a 24/7 job with a lousy benefits package.

Maddy's position may come with magical abilities and an impressive wingspan, but it doesn't pay the bills. And then, there are her infuriating boss, tenant woes, and a cranky, popcorn-loving gargoyle to contend with.

Things starts looking up, though, when tall, dark, and handsome Gabriel Angeloscuro agrees to rent the empty apartment in Maddy's building. It's probably just a coincidence that as soon as he moves in, demons appear on the front lawn. But when an unholy monster is unleashed upon the streets of Chicago, Maddy discovers powers she never knew she possessed. Powers linked to a family legacy of tarnished halos.

Powers that place her directly between the light of Heaven, and the fires of Hell...
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  • From the book Chapter One

    I hate it when a soul goes all stubborn on me. It doesn't happen as often as you'd think. Most people understand that they're dead and want to move on. Maybe it's because they think heaven is waiting for them. Maybe it's because they believe they'll be reincarnated as the Princess of Monaco—does anybody want to be reincarnated as the Princess of Monaco anymore? Maybe it's because they're just tired of this world. When I show up to escort them to the Door, they know why I'm there and they're ready to go. But sometimes, like today, a soul doesn't want to leave its earthly body.

    Mrs. Luccardi didn't want to leave her cats—all fifteen of them. People get very attached to their pets. In fact, I've seen a fair number of people more attached to their pets than to their children. I understand that they feel like their little four-legged buddy is part of the family. What I have to make them understand is that they are dead, and can no longer feed, groom, or cuddle little Muffy, Flopsy, or Fido. It can be a delicate job, convincing the recently deceased of their new status.

    "Mrs. Luccardi, you're dead," I said. "You can't take care of your cats anymore. Someone else will have to do that now."

    I fought the urge to cover my nose as I said this. Mrs. Luccardi was recently deceased and therefore immune to the reek of cat piss that permeated her doily-covered living room, but I was very much alive and getting tired of breathing through my mouth.

    Aside from my burning need to breathe air unscented by eau de cat urine, I had two other pressing reasons for getting Mrs. Luccardi out of there. First, I had a potential tenant coming to look at the empty apartment in my building in twenty minutes, and I didn't want to piss off a possible source of income by showing up late. Second, some of Mrs. Luccardi's precious darlings were contemplating her cooling body with "buffet" in their eyes. I did not want Mrs. Luccardi to see her babies gnawing through her flowered housedress to flesh and bone. That kind of thing tends to traumatize the newly dead and prevents an Agent from an efficient escort to the Door.

    If the soul doesn't enter the Door, then it becomes a ghost. Agents don't like ghosts. They're untidy. The presence of a ghost means you can't close your list, and if you can't close your list, you have to file extra paperwork to explain why you can't, and I absolutely hate doing any paperwork at all, period. So I really wanted Mrs. Luccardi to leave her carnivorous little fuzzballs and come with me, pronto.

    I hadn't even untethered her soul yet. Her incorporeal self floated above the body on the plastic-covered sofa, bound by a thin strand of ectoplasm. I was supposed to cut this strand with magic or my silver knife and release the soul. The knife, along with my Agent status, had been passed to me by my mother when she died.

    In life and death, Mrs. Luccardi was a small, thin woman with a head of white curls—the kind of old lady my mother used to call a "Q-tip." She glared at me through red plastic spectacles.

    "I don't care if I'm dead, missy. I'm not leaving my babies," she snapped. "Besides, look at you. I'm supposed to believe you're an Agent of death? You're covered in flour."

    "I was in the middle of making a pear tart dotted with gorgonzola. You're an unscheduled call. Besides," I said, pointing to my back, "don't you think the wings are a clue?"

    She continued to eye me with suspicion. Okay, so a ten-foot wingspan of black feathers probably looked a little incongruous with my "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" apron and my fuzzy blue house...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 25, 2010
    Madeline Black is getting fed up. Her job is to coax newly dead Chicagoans to the Door to the afterlife. But what if they don't want to go? Her supervisor, J.B., won't accept any excuses. Maddy also desperately needs a roommate to split the bills. When the beautiful Gabriel Angeloscuro (the name a rare clunker on Henry's part) comes to look at the apartment, Maddy invites him in—and thereby welcomes a host of disasters. Enigmatic Gabriel holds the key to the mysteries of Maddy's past, including the murder of her mother. Emotionally battered, confused, and scared, Maddy is above all determined to find the truth. Henry shows that she is up to the challenge of debuting in a crowded genre. The extensive background of her imaginative world is well integrated with the action-packed plot, and the satisfying conclusion leaves the reader primed for the next installment.

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Black Wings
Black Wings Series, Book 1
Christina Henry
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