Cover Image: Black Wings

Black Wings

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Member Reviews

Black Wings by Megan Hart is an amped up version of the Bad Seed . It centers around 10 year old Briella who is a young genius. She is being raised by her Mother Marian , and her step father Dean. Briella has a been acting strange and secretive and  people get hurt around her . The "experiments " she works on become more and more  unbelievable . This is a horror book that  was a good read and I would recommend .

                                        ****This ebook was provided by Netgalley for an honest review*****
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A tale about a mother being ravaged by her internal feelings of guilt, and the escalating terror of her daughter and raven . The relationship between mother and daughter was full of tension and so believable.
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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2020 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="https://rusaupdate.org/2020/01/2020-reading-list-years-best-in-genre-fiction-for-adult-readers/">
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This book is like The Good Son and The Omen mixed up with a young mad scientist.

Readers without children: This is a pretty fun book.
Readers who are dads: This book is creepy.
Readers who are moms: This is a terrifying book!

The main relationship in the story is between Marian, the mother, and Briella, her off-the-charts brilliant daughter. Just think what a scary premise it is to have a young, impulsive child in need of your guidance and supervision, someone to teach her empathy and self control, but the child is way, WAY smarter than you. Frightening.

PROS:
Both Marian and Briella are well-developed characters. They’re going to stick with me a long time.

Hart has published a lot of erotica novels, so she writes believable interactions between Marian and Dean as a married couple. (Some moments are quite adorable, actually.)

Hart is an expert at dialogue. The speaking scenes make it feel like you’re eavesdropping on real people.

CONS:
I do not like the beginning and almost put it down (all the backstory was tedious), but the book really takes off at about the 15 percent mark. Then I couldn’t put it down!

Quibble: Marian’s husband is a little too patient, too perfect.

OVERALL:
Captivating, full of dread because you sense something REALLY bad is going to happen, and scary (especially for moms). Four solid stars.
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Not a bad read but at times was very confusing. The dialogue felt a little stinted. Would still try another book by this author.
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Thankyou to NetGalley,  Flame Tree Press and the author,  Megan Hart, for the opportunity to read a digital copy of Black Wings in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion. 
I thought this book provided a good quick read.  The storyline was well thought out and written with intriguing characters.  Definitely keeps you on the edge of your chair. 
Worth a read.
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The best horror books are the ones that involve children as villains and this one is certainly scary. Because the book is told from the mother's point of view, the reader never really gets to like Briella because like her mother we don't understand why she is the way she is or what is on her mind because the mother herself can't.
This book definitely gave me the creeps and reminded me of Stephen King a little bit in how normal the characters are and unprepared for the supernatural or just plain evil.
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Review copy

Briella is a bright child, some would say gifted.  That being said, she does have trouble making friends,

"Along with a loathing for personal hygiene and lack of friends, Briella had taken up lying.  Much like her father, she wasn't really very good at it."

Briella's father, Tommy, was making an effort to be in her life, even though her mother, Marian had left him years ago and was now in a relationship with her step-father, Dean.

As if that's not complicated enough, one-day Briella befriends a raven on the way home from school.  She names the bird Onyx, and this is when the wheels start to come off and things get more than a little strange.

Black Wings is a wonderful, real-life-like story with a touch of the fantastical.  Wildly original.  The challenging relationship between Briella and her mother was spot on, very believable.  Black Wings is a story that is simple, yet elegant.  Simultaneously charming and dangerous.  Intriguing and entertaining, right up to the unbelievable ending.  I loved it.

Recommended.

Published by Flame Tree Press, Black Wings is available in hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audio formats.

From the author's bio - Megan Hart has written in almost every genre of romantic fiction, including historical, contemporary, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, futuristic, fantasy and perhaps most notably, erotic.  She also writes non-erotic fantasy and science fiction, as well as continuing to occasionally dabble in horror.  Black Wings is one of the later.
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I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I was craving a good horror read, and when I read the description for this book, I thought that a story about a creepy, disturbed child might do the trick. It didn’t. It had such a great concept but the execution didn’t follow through. Instead of being horrified by a genius, disturbed child, I was just really annoyed. Her behaviour and her mother, Marian’s was irritating. The story was really drawn out, I thought there were a lot of gaps. The best part about this book was the ending, and if you read it, you’ll know what I’m getting at. 
I was committed to reading the whole thing and I am happy that I found out what happened. It wasn’t a great read and I was disappointed but it wasn’t terrible.
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Maybe it’s because I vividly remember my tantrum-adolescent years, or maybe it’s because I’m a parent and I finally understand the tension involved in the relationship between mother and child, but I thought <b><i>Black Wings</i> was a great character-driven novel</b>!

I’ve read the other reviews. People hated the characters (you were supposed to). People found the science fiction/fantasy to be more in the background (also intentional). People didn’t think the “chilling” moments were actually chilling (you’re looking at the wrong things.

<I>“We’ll be fine. We’ll all be just fine.”</i>

<b>What makes this book unsettling is accompanying Marian in her inner thoughts about her relationship with her troubled daughter, Briela,</b> so if you’re looking for a supernatural thriller, this isn’t it. Marian constantly questions her love for her daughter, and doubts her abilities as a parent. This book covers themes of parenting, step-parenting, mortality, and even something akin to Asperger’s (thought Briela is never said to have Asperger’s, I found a lot of her characteristics to be similar).

I won’t ever look at crows or ravens the same way again.
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The creepy kid subgenre is one of my absolute favorites in all of horrordom — sit me down in front of The Omen or Who Can Kill a Child? and I'm a happy girl — so I tore through this book like a baboon trying to get its hands on poor Lee Remick. I had to know what manner of evil was lurking behind the eyes of Briella, the ten-year-old genius/sociopath/creepy kid in question. Did I find out? Mostly. Black Wings falters a bit in the execution, but it is ultimately a disturbing and compelling examination of the horrors of motherhood.

We read the story from the perspective of Marian, Briella's mother. Marian is stressed and exhausted from dealing with a preternaturally gifted child who also happens to be a bit of a jerk. Marian is struggling with feelings of shame and guilt, because while she loves Briella, she can't honestly say that she likes her, and she feels like a failure as a mother for even thinking that. Marian believes that any personality flaws or social difficulties Briella is having are due to her own perceived maternal incompetence. I don't have any kids myself, but author Megan Hart's portrait of Marian's parental doubt feels very well-drawn. Marian's resulting competition with the supermom down the street (which takes place entirely inside her own head) is hilarious and is one of the few things I actually like about her, to be honest.

Another thing I like about Marian is her complete and utter distrust of birds. I don't know if you've ever gotten on a bird's bad side before, but I would not recommend it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: birds are evil, ill-tempered velociraptors of the sky, and they are not to be trifled with. Marian knows this deep in her bones, so she is immediately wary of Briella's new friend Onyx, a huge raven whose unsettling intelligence and unnatural devotion to Briella throw up even more red flags for Marian about her increasingly odd child. Unfortunately, Marian's hobbies include smoking, sniffing her husband's armpits (don't ask), and denial, so she doesn't really act on her concerns about Onyx. But to be fair, there's not much she can do. Birds are powerful enemies even when they're not in league with demonspawn.

(Speaking of birds, I must commend Megan Hart for her Hitchcock shout-outs. Marian's husband Dean mockingly calls her Tippi Hedren for hating Onyx so much, a reference to The Birds — not laughing so much now, are you, Dean? — and Marian's first name is one letter away from matching that of Marion Crane, Janet Leigh's character in Psycho.)

Soon after Onyx appears, terrible accidents and ominous events begin happening around Briella. Positioning the story from Marian's perspective gives Hart the chance to ratchet up the tension, which is why I devoured the book so quickly: Briella is dishonest and secretive, so her mother (and therefore the reader as well) are kept in the dark as to her actions and motives. I was dying to know what this sinister little girl was really up to. There were times when I loved the suspense, but I also felt quite frustrated at times. Though I understand the reasons for it, the depths of Marian's denial sometimes became too much for me to handle. The reader realizes when Briella is responsible for some act of sabotage or violence far sooner than Marian realizes it, and I occasionally found myself wishing for Hortense Daigle to show up and loudly accuse bad seed Briella of murder just so everything would finally come out into the open.

When we discover Briella's true motives, it's chilling, disturbing...and a little nonsensical. I'm not certain that Briella's worldview hangs together coherently within the book's internal logic, but then again I may be asking too much of a 10-year-old sociopathic mad scientist. Speaking of, I wasn't surprised at Briella's ableism — as I said above, she's a jerk, so I'm not surprised that the pre-teen super-genius thinks anyone below her IQ level is subhuman — but it's also pretty prevalent throughout the book from other characters, which did bother me. The "r" word is thrown around a lot (though it is challenged) and Marian wonders more than once if she wouldn't be happier with a "normal," "dumb" kid. There seems to be an implication at the end of the book that "dumb" people can't be evil, which didn't sit well with me at all.

If it feels like I'm pecking at this book like a buzzard, it's not because I hated it, but because I was so excited by the concept that I wanted to absolutely love it. I enjoyed this read, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Despite my issues, though, Black Wings is a book that won't let you put it down until you've finished the last page. The ending left me both satisfied and unsettled, which is a perfect way to walk away from a horror story.
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I'm still trying to shake the lurking sense of dread that permeated this whole book. It's a slow burn, but I was drawn in immediately. Don't approach it as a straight up horror novel, it's more of a family drama with flavors of horror salted in. As we follow Marian's journey with her very smart (and possibly psychotic) daughter, Briella, you can't help but sympathize with Marian as she tries to deal with the mounting signs that something unusual is going on with her daughter. I don't know what I'd do as a parent in her situation. It's a more subtle "We Need To Talk About Kevin" with some supernatural elements. And it builds to a nice, satisfying rain-soaked rooftop climax. And bonus points to having people of color as the main characters! I would happily read more from this author.
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This is a story about a child who is intellectually gifted, but rather a handful. She develops an affinity with a wild raven, much to her mother's chagrin. The mother comes over as very weak and unsympathetic to animals. A reason for that is revealed early on, but her insinuation that animals don't have souls really grated.

There seems to be an unnecessary emphasis on religion that doesn't really move the plot forward, as well as some embarrassingly intimate scenes between the mother and step-father that I could have done without, even graphic sex on one occasion.

I didn't like any of the characters, except the raven. He was rather interesting. The end was very dramatic, but lacked explanation or believability. This could have been an effective Horror story redolent of The Bad Seed, but despite hints being dropped like anvils it just didn't have enough creep factor in the story as a whole.

Despite all that I found the read interesting. I wanted to see what happened.
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What an absolutely incredible book this was! I was sucked into the story right from the word go and glued to the gripping horrors that played out before my eyes. This dramatic and thrilling book came to life and I felt like I was watching a movie play out in my mind.

The plot is dark and eerie with tension that continues to build with each turn of the page. The horror mode slowly starts to weave it's magic around you and I was left feeling uneasy and unnerved on several occasions which says it all about the writing style of Megan Hart.

Briella is an extraordinary child, gifted and 'scary smart' to use her mother's words. She commandeers the story with her attitude, mind and ability and I was mesmerised by her, but not always in a good way. From the word go, there is that sense that not everything is as it seems with the child, her intellectual ability soars above the level of those around her, leading to disturbing and dramatic details coming out in full force.

I particularly liked the nod to Edgar Allan Poe with the link to the raven in the story. Briella and Onyx's connection brought an additional thrilling layer to an already gripping journey and their relationship ensured that this was one book you most certainly could not put down.

Black Wings is dark and demanding with spine chilling moments that will leave you gasping for breath. This story takes over from the opening page and I defy anyone the ability to be able to put the book down once they have dived in. It's a fantastic piece of work on every level.
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I received and an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book seemed more science fiction with a lot of mystery and intrigue. Brielle Blake is an extremely smart 10-year-old girl bordering on genius territory. She lives with her mother Marian and her step-father Dean. Her dad, Tommy is loosely in the picture.

Briella reminded me a lot of the little girl from Baby Teeth and I hated that little girl too. Briella befriends a Raven that is injured after being hit by a car. The only things I know about ravens are what I remember from Edgar Allan Poe lore. Briella's mother had a bad feeling about this bird from the beginning and should have put her foot down. Briella brought the injured bird into the house and named him Onyx. The two developed this unhealthy attachment. Weird things began to happen around Briella in relation to this bird.

First, after her school basically kicks her out, a student she was playing with mysteriously goes into a fit of seizures. Things just get worse and worse at this point. More people started to get seriously ill or die. Briella was saying very inappropriate things like how she smelled death and she had this fascination with souls. This child was feverishly working on a secret project in her room and writing in her journal. Onyx would even bring her trinkets for her mad scientist work. Marian really should have been more strict with this child but I do not know if that would have helped. She was pure evil!

Briella was a little psychopath and she refused to bathe. Listening to her mother describe how when she hugged her that she smelled sour and had dried snot on her nose was just nasty. The girl was nuts and refused to bathe! The school politely tried to speak to Marian about this little deviant be she seemed too preoccupied with finding a part-time job, her husband, and pretending her daughter wasn't crazy.

I recommend reading this book. The mom did put all the pieces together but I feel the book ended as if there was more to the story. Get this book.
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Black Wings 
by Megan Hart (Goodreads Author)  
M 50x66
Lou Jacobs's review Feb 18, 2019  ·  edit
it was amazing

Chilling and yet relentlessly riveting best describes this gem. Megan Hart craftily unravels the tale of Briella Blake with a remarkable sense of an impending expectation of escalating dire events .. and a virtual crescendo of dread!
Briella is merely a ten year old girl who's light years above the mental skills of her classmates. But, unfortunately not shy or savvy enough to avoid pointing out their short-comings - or "stupidity" Naturally, she is not popular, nor even tolerated. However, her public school officials are well aware of her genius stature and pave the way for her transfer with a full scholarship to the prestigious Parkhaven Academy, who specialize in the education of exceptional students.
Briella loves her new school which both fosters and encourages her studies and provides time for independent study and research with individual "projects" Briella is attempting by programming to record and save memories .... with her motives secretly guarded. At Parkhaven the process of trial and failure is considered more important than ultimate success. However, her relentless drive and focus and motives for her project prove to be disruptive and detrimental. They soon realize that she is working on proving the presence of an afterlife and trying to create or capture a soul
Briella's story is told through the perspective of her mother, Marian. Who realizes that Briella has evolved from "scary smart" to something else ... with weird mood changes, tantrums, secretiveness and even inappropriate affect. She wonders if she's lost control of her own child ... who she should unconditionally love. Slowly the realization cannot be denied ... that bad things happen to adult, child or animals who thwart Briella's aspirations or simply cross her path in a somewhat contentious manner. Marian struggles to understand and accept who and what her daughter really is ... and how to account for her sinister behavior.
The unexpected denouement builds with epic tension to the heartbreaking but plausible climax. Thanks to Netgalley and @Flame Tree Press for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review. This is the first book I've read by Megan Hart ... she is now added to my "Must Read List" of Authors.
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I can't stop thinking about this book! Let me back up and explain what it's about.

Marian's daughter, Briella, is a child genius....but still just a child. Misunderstood by everyone around her, Briella befriends a raven and immerses herself in her research. A series of odd events brings Marian to wonder how well she knows her daughter.

After I finished this book, I couldn't put it to rest in my mind. I love that it left me to contemplate my own beliefs and sparked many emotions throughout. There is much more going on than what you read on the pages. This leaves for some insightful discussion questions, which is why Black Wings would be perfect to read with friends.

Why I loved it:

It's about a curious child genius, who's closest friend is a raven.
Told from Marian's perspective, keeping Briella a mystery to the reader.
Has depth, many underlying themes.
Great for book clubs.

What I could do without:

There are details throughout the story that are unnecessary, adding no value to the story.
There are no consequences for serious crimes, making it seem a bit too unrealistic at times.
I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley.com in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Black Wings by Megan Hart is a horror novel....with a child you will love to hate.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Flame Tree Press, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.



My Synopsis: 
Marian is a little worried about her daughter. Truth be told, she always has been. She loves Briella dearly, but sometimes it’s hard. Briella is a very gifted child, exceedingly bright, but she’s only ten. Her mind may be brilliant, but her social skills and empathy are lacking. She can’t make or keep friends, and it is little wonder with her rudeness and attitude. Marian has always known there was something wrong with her daughter, but events are about to prove her very right.

Marian’s husband Dean, who is Briella’s step-father, loves them both very much, but is often treated like dirt by his step-daughter. He ignores her attitude, and goes out of his way to show he cares.

Tommy is Briella’s biological father and has been absent most of her life, only there to give gifts and promises, and then disappear again. Tommy insists he has changed and wants back in his daughters’ life.

Things start to go downhill when Briella befriends a raven who she names Onyx, who seems to talk. When her family tries to convince her it just mimics her speech, she insists he is more intelligent than many people (them included). Marian wants it gone, but nothing convinces Briella. When she starts a new school for gifted students, Briella seems much happier. Finally, she is given free rein to let her imagination run, and do her own experiments. However, there lies the problem. She believes Onyx guides the soul when a person dies. Now she just has to prove it.

 
My Opinions: 
This was really different book. It isn’t true horror, but it is creepy.

In one way it is about the struggles of parenthood. In another, about a very troubled child. Then there’s that creep factor where the child is more like Chucky than Matilda. With a little more gruesomeness and gore, I truly think this could be made into a horror movie. As it is, the author definitely built the suspense, and I loved the ending.

Overall, it was an entertaining, fast read, with good writing and a captivating plot. I really enjoyed it.
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BLACK WINGS is a totally engrossing psychological thriller, with implications for civilization's future. I identified with multiple characters (a rare event), including the focus character Briella, and her beleaguered but well-intentioned mother Marian. BLACK WINGS sets out on an intriguing, yet possible, premise; and becomes horrifying in its implacability. While many science-fiction stories cope with the "dangers" of Artificial Intelligence, BLACK WINGS examines the possibilities of a child with clearly genius-level intelligence, a child Stephen Hawking without adult maturity and stability, a child developing a wild and willful temperament to match the high intellectual capability. BLACK WINGS is a novel impossible to put down till the end.
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Marian knows she should feel lucky to have a child genius like Briella but something is very wrong and her child’s obsessions and fantasies are starting to impact her life in a big way…

Black Wings wasn’t at all the book I was expecting to read from its pre-release blurb. I was imagining a kind of dark Hogwarts story but instead it’s a sinister horror centred around a mother and her daughter who is growing up to be a troubled young lady. It’s an odd book in the fact that there isn’t a character in it that I liked enough to be routing for and yet still completely enjoyed reading it. Marian, the mother comes across as a doormat who has bad parenting habits and dislikes her own child, even at the very beginning of the story. Briella is a self-absorbed, obnoxious, know-it-all brat who screams like a five-year-old if she doesn’t get her own way. Father Tommy is absent most of the time unless it suits him and has a weird habit of calling Briella ‘the kid’ instead of her name. Dean the step dad is the only one who is remotely normal but even he has such long shifts he’s asleep in the next room for most of the narrative, even when important plot points are happening! 

That said, I actually enjoyed reading this book, it’s paced really nicely and ramps up to a final crescendo very well. I liked the way its constantly written from the mother’s perspective who becomes quite an unreliable narrator at times as her mental health is pushed towards breaking point. I also found it really refreshing that Briella’s problems weren’t based on her genetics – too many times I find authors use the ‘apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ theory to explain away children’s behaviour but Briella just seems to be a nightmare despite her parent’s upbringing. The ending had a nice twist I didn’t really seem coming but on deeper thought seemed to be written for shock value. I didn’t really believe or understand how the ‘eight months later’ epilogue would have actually been able to happen in that scenario (trying to remain spoiler free!)

Overall Black Wings was a great, surprising find and an unsettling, sinister horror story. Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for a copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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