Black Wings

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

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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Really enjoyed reading this book. I was not sure how it would be before I began reading but a delightful story.  Briella was a real character with personality and was very interesting to hear her story.  It was interesting to view her from a mothers point of view.  Highly recommend this book.
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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 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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I thoroughly enjoyed the family aspect of this book. The characters were well developed and realistic, I found, and continued to develop well throughout the entirety of the book. However, I was expecting the book to focus on the thrilling, horror aspect of the plot but it stayed in the background, overruled by family and parenthood. I would have loved to have seen more of the science-fiction elements of the storyline. The chapters were a good length and there was plenty of opportunity for breaks. This makes the book perfect for those on limited reading time. The writing style was simple and easy to understand. The plot was a little haphazard. It didn’t go in any particular direction and wasn’t cemented on a certain idea or achievement. It did seem pointless a lot of the time. Nevertheless, I loved the ending! The suspense and thrill of it was extraordinarily done and Megan Hart did me proud with the reveal!
All in all a pretty good read that I’d reccommend to younger teens:

2.5 / 5 stars!
**This is a shortened version of my review for Netgalley! If you would like to see my full review, it can be found here ->
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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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What did I just read? This was insane! I have no words that will adequately summarize this in a way that will do this strange tale justice. 
We read it in the voice of the mother. We follow it with her eyes and the as the strangeness that is Briella makes itself known we want to deny it in our own voices. We should love our children, never doubting that, and embrace their uniqueness. But how do you embrace the disquiet you feel when you encounter this smart, unique child, doing and saying things that leave you a little uneasy, slightly sick and utterly perplexed?  
Seriously,  this is a very strange read. Not what I expected at all. And I love the strange and otherworldly voices of many authors. I just don't know where to place it. I read it in a day. So no problems there! It speaks for itself. You just have to make up your own mind and answer the question yourself. How do you love your child, if they do jot even possess the unique qualities that make us human? Definitely a book that will make you think.  I could never even being to imagine how it would be to have that question even enter my mind about my own children. I feel a disquiet,  an uneasiness when evne think about it. This is well written and the characters grab you, even the Raven. Though it will give you the creeps! If you like strange and the unexplainable then this is definitely for you!
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Wow! I'd never heard of Megan Hart prior to reading this book but I was instantly intrigued when I saw the synopsis and had to put in the request with NetGallery.  I'm so glad I did because this book kept me guessing, just when I thought Megan was going in one direction with the story she throws a curve ball and I'm sitting thinking "I did not expect that".

After I finish this review I'll be having a look to see if Megan has any other books and I'll definitely be checking them out.  It took longer for me to read than anticipated because of a lot of personal issues but thankfully I got through it as I would have been gutted not to have finished.

I cant recommend this book enough and I am not going to do the author any disservice by offering spoilers or giving an account of things that happen in the story.  Everything you need to know is in the synopsis and believe me its way better to go in blind beyond this and enjoy where Meghan's mind takes you
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Briella. is a ten year old girl who is exceptionally smart.  Her classmates don’t like her.  Why?  Briella rescues a raven that is hit be the neighbor’s truck.  She talks to it while it heals.  She names the raven Onyx.  It becomes a friend to Briella as it starts talking among other things.  When Briella gets a scholarship to go to a private school called Parkhaven.  It is a school for exceptionally intelligent children.  Her mother and stepfather are happy for her chance to go there.  When Parkhaven gives Briella the opportunity to with time and resources to work on her ultimate project, her mother isn’t happy about it.  Why?  What is the project?  When Briella’s Mother is forced to stay in bed due to a complicated pregnancy, she learns that Onyx is helping Briella with killing for her project.  

The novel is written with growing suspense and realistic as you read it.  It becomes mesmerizing to read.  It’s thought provoking.  I don’t know what I would do if I had a child smarter than me under the circumstances that Briella’s parents had.  It certainly has me thinking about what I would had done.
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Oh gosh, what can I say about this book? I loved it, but I hated so many of the characters. I don't think I've ever raged so hard at characters you're supposed to like/are the good guy (if you will). First off, this book cover is beautiful, and I absolutely love it. Second, the synopsis sounded intriguing, and I was curious to see, exactly, where the story would take me. Ooh, boy, did it take me on a journey. A journey of (probably irrational) emotions that had me wanting to throw my Kindle out the window a few times.

I found Briella to be a grating, obnoxious little brat. Her "I'm smarter than everyone" attitude, and her complete dismissal of her mother's punishments (and I use that term lightly, since the woman barely tried) irked me so much. As a mom, I'd be thrilled if either of my kids were genius level prodigies like Briella seems to be. But if they even acted like a sociopath with no regard for anyone or anything else, I'd be getting them some serious help. That's where Briella's mom went wrong. Her daughter needed serious help, and she instead brushed it off and ignored it. Even when the evidence that her daughter was basically some "Macaulay Culkin in The Good Son" type child was presented to her, slapping her right in the face, she ignored it. Ugh. I hated Briella's mom just a bit more, actually, because of her naive stupidity.

I also didn't care for Briella's dad, and I especially hated Briella's paternal grandmother. Even though we never meet the woman in the book, the stuff she's said is mentioned, and it brought back memories of my own now ex-mother-in-law. That woman wasn't a nicer person, either. 

I think the only characters I did like were Briella's stepdad and her maternal grandfather. They were the only two decent people in the book, Although I do wish they had spoken up and forced Briella's mother to see just what a nightmare child she really was.

Overall, I thought the plot was solid, keeping me on my toes and making me wonder what sort of nonsense was going to happen next. The characters are well-developed (hello, rage emotions) and well-written. And that ending reminded me of The Good Son. The story also had a We Need to Talk About Kevin vibe too.

I enjoyed it, even though it angered me so much. I'm rating Black Wings 4 stars. Would recommend.
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Think an evil Matilda, or Girl With all the Gifts meets The Omen and you’d come someway close to the level of creepy child genius that is Briella!

This book is dark, twisty and manages to be original whilst featuring aspects of all the best fantasy; great characters who are full of flaws and quirks, a cracking plot that’ll grip you from the start, and even twists and turns to keep you utterly hooked!

This was a brilliant book that I probably would never have heard for without Netgalley, so a big thank you to them for putting it in my radar! Definitely an author to watch.
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When I first began Black Wings, I was expecting to read a story that would unsettle me. The book's premise, along with its subject, suggested it would tell a story that was truly chilling. For the most part, I believe Black Wings lived up to its reputation; any gothic novel involving a child sets itself apart as a story which has the potential to make its audience feel distinctly uncomfortable. Throughout the novel, I felt a sharp curiosity, wanting to uncover Briella's mysteries, but I was restricted by the ignorance of her own mother. We see through Marian's eyes, and so when Marian doesn't question her daughter's behaviour, we, as readers, are unable to understand what the mysterious girl is planning. This makes for quite an effective narrative technique, because it means that a sense of mystery can be maintained throughout the story. The downside of this is, of course, is that the narrative can, at times, come across as a little frustrating.

Yet Marian is not a totally despicable character; it is easy to understand why she is unable to give her daughter the attention she deserves - she doesn't understand her, and although she tries her hardest to connect with her, it may just be that no one can understand Briella. The result is a somewhat morally ambiguous character; I disapproved of the way Marian seemed to neglect her daughter, but I also understood her actions; she is a mother placed in an impossible situation, and so it is easy to redeem the way she decides to handle it. This moral ambiguity resulted in a character who was compelling and interesting to read about.

As for the supernatural aspects of this novel - they were of good quality, but I must say that I was expecting more. Onyx made for an interesting character, and he was certainly eerie, but I feel as though I wanted more of a focus on him, and less of a focus on Marian sneaking off for a cigarette in the middle of the day. It's also worth mentioning that, as the book is written from Marian's perspective, many of Briella's actions - as well as her motivations - are concealed. I expected many of these to be resolved towards the end of the novel, but I was left a little disappointed. I liked the ending, but it didn't offer many explanations as to what Briella had actually been doing. This may have been a purposeful decision, as it did help maintain the mystery of the story, but I can't help from wondering whether there are a few loose ends still lost somewhere around the middle of Black Wings.

Despite a few negatives, I cannot deny the fact that I really enjoyed reading this novel. It is exceptionally dramatic, capable of keeping its readers engaged even during the slower parts of the narrative. There is a tension that runs throughout this story, and it is impossible not to admire it. The book is well-written, too; there were a few periods of odd phrasing, but, for the most part, I was pleased with the style of writing. In fact, I was pleased with most of this book; it didn't outstand me, but it certainly engaged me, and I have had a pleasant time reading it. Despite its connections to the gothic genre, I would argue that this is quite a light read; it has relatively short chapters, and is sure to delight anyone interested in a story filled with drama.
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I found the premise of this book to be really unique.  The characters are well written and there was definitely something going on with Briella.  She develops a relationship with a raven named Onyx and starts working on experiments that her mother, Marian does not know about.  She is clearly a genius, but also is very dark.  Marian ultimately has to deal with her daughter's actions after she finds out the reason for the experiments and what she has done.  I liked the subject matter in this book and found it to be very haunting and kept me in suspense throughout.  Thanks for the ARC, Net Galley.
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This was a weirdly interesting and very creeping read. I empathized with Marian through this whole ordeal. She was wanting the best for Briella but knew in her heart that something wasn't right. Briella was darkness and had no soul which was why Onyx called to her. The mystery with Onxy is what kept me going. I was trying to figure out what is the deal with this raven. You knew he was the cause of all these tragedies that kept happening but why...ya know. The ending was fantastic and I'm glad I stuck it out. This was a different read for me but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
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