Black Bird of the Gallows – Meg Kassel

Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly … Sorry, I kept hearing this song each time I read the title and music does feature in the book so it’s not completely out there …

The first thing I absolutely have to address about Black Bird of the Gallows is that cover. If you want people to need to buy a book without even knowing what it’s about, then it seems like L.J. Anderson from Mayhem Cover Creations is your go to person. I simply adore the cover design and use of colour. I want a huge framed print of this cover artwork for my wall so I can constantly admire it.

Now, where was I? Oh, the book. I really enjoyed it. What was it about? The birds and the bees, but not the way you’re thinking!

Angie has had it tough, spending a large part of her upbringing living in a van or at random mens’ places with her drug addicted mother. While she’s still haunted by her past, she now lives with her father, one of the most adorably sweet fathers I’ve come across in real life or the other real life (books). She has great friends, Lacey and Deno, and her very own secret identity as Sparo, a DJ in a nightclub.

The house next door has been vacant since a tragedy made it impossible to sell. However, one day a moving truck appears and lo and behold, Angie spies (literally, through binoculars) the new cute boy moving in next door with his family. Mystery cute boy with the dark eyes isn’t what he appears to be and as Angie gets to know him, she learns he’s not quite as human as he looks, and apparently he looks really, really good.

I loved the whole premise of this story. I’m a sucker for anything mythological so naturally I was drawn in by the origin stories of the tortured harbingers and Beekeepers. I wanted to know more about them though and I definitely wanted a backstory for the Strawmen. I’d love to read something from all of their perspectives that shed more of a light on them. Plus there’s indications there are other entities/creatures/part human part something else types in this world and I want all the details about them as well.

I had two favourite characters in this book. Rafette, who we spend a considerable amount of the book running from or on the lookout for, is someone I really empathised with. I found myself seeing the story from his point of view and didn’t view him as a baddie at all. Maybe it’s partly due to the soft spot I have for bees but my heart broke for Rafette and the pain he’s endured in his life. I need to know so much more about him! And best friend Lacey … supportive, intuitive and loving, yet willing to bash her best friend over the head with a golf club if that’s what it takes to keep her safe. I loved Lacey!

Tissues Used: 0, which surprised me as I came prepared. Although my icy cold heart experienced somewhat of an earthquake, none of the cracks melted into tears.

Food craved during reading: Pancakes. Oh, they sounded so delectably droolworthy.

Something I thought would be important to remember when reading or rereading: The names and stories of those you don’t think will come back into the story. I found sections of this book to be in the ‘six degrees of separation’ category where peoples’ stories linked together like one big crow shaped jigsaw puzzle. Prepare to get halfway through the book and go ‘oh, I remember them!’

Now for the niggles:

  • A minor thing, sure, but what’s Reece’s real name?
  • The insta-love frustrated me along with the whole ‘our love is destined to be doomed and we’ll both be miserable for all of eternity or for as long as we live (whichever is applicable) so we shouldn’t be together. But first, let’s kiss some more’.
  • Reece telling Angie that he’s been in love with her since they were six. Now, this would have been worthy of an aww if not for the fact that he would’ve been about 190, give or take a few years, at that stage which kind of morphed my aww into eww!.
  • The whole thing about the big ‘event’ when loved ones are being searched for. When they all meet up at Angie’s house after being separated did Angie not wonder or bother to ask Deno if his parents were alive or dead?
  • You know the whole horror movie girl victim/heroine who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the door? I had that frustration with Angie. I kept wanting to yell at her to just leave! You can’t say she didn’t have ample warning time, yet she still managed to wind up caught up in the ‘event’ like everyone else. What use is fair warning if you don’t listen, sweetheart?

So, my rating. If I didn’t have this many niggles, the writing would’ve deserved 5 stars. The niggles and frustration I felt while I was reading would usually have made it a 3 stars but the writing was just so darn good. So I’m splitting the difference and giving this 4 stars.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Entangled Teen, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC, for the opportunity to read this book. I will definitely read future books by Meg Kassel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece — and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

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