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Black Wings Beating (The Skybound Saga)

Review

Black Wings Beating (The Skybound Saga)

Alex London is an author for young adults, adults and children. His young adult novels include the duology of PROXY and GUARDIAN and the YA author anthology HOPE NATION. Always a writer, he once was a journalist covering conflict and refugee camps. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, and his newest novel, BLACK WINGS BEATING, is the first in the new series Skybound Saga.

BLACK WINGS BEATING follows twins Brysen and Kylee who live in the Six Villages of Uztar where birds are the center of everything. All Brysen has ever wanted is to be an amazing falconer, but Kylee, who would stay miles away from the birds if she could, is the one with all of the ancient gifts. At the start, their abusive father is killed by the notorious and feared Ghost Eagle, but the twins are all but free. Brysen’s boyfriend owes the ruling family a great sum of money and must retrieve the Ghost Eagle in order to pay back his debts. But Brysen steps in and vows to capture the Ghost Eagle and save him, but Kylee surely will not allow him to do it alone.

"A high-stakes and unforgiving fantasy novel that will be like nothing readers have encountered before....London has the potential to write excellent subsequent installments that will...blow readers away."

Because BLACK WIGS BEATING start off so brutally, my expectations for the plot rose. While I rarely read books like this one, I am glad to have because it features a peculiar world and an astonishingly distinctive set of imperfect characters that I won’t soon forget. Knowing very little about the plot when I started reading, I quickly became entrenched in the complicated and brutal world that Kylee and Brysen live in. With a unique focus on birds and their relationships with humans, there is so much in this story that I have never seen in the YA genre.

My favorite character was, quite surprisingly, Brysen’s bird Shara. Nyall and Jowyn were other characters who I thought were much more likable than the main characters, and I feel I could read whole novels about them as well. I do think the book could have been a little shorter, but what it does best is set up for more books with these characters. Much world building had to take place to prepare for the ending and future of the twins. The strongest part of this book is the atmosphere, it was eerie, creepy and very unique, and many readers will enjoy its quirks.

Ultimately, BLACK WINGS BEATING is a high-stakes and unforgiving fantasy novel that will be like nothing readers have encountered before. Told in alternating points of view of Kylee and Brysen and occasionally other characters, readers are given puzzle pieces of the world as the story progresses. While I didn’t find myself attached to Brysen and Kylee, and I was mostly frustrated with Brysen, those two succeeded in being some of the most flawed characters I have ever read about. There is tension in just about everything in this book: between people, families, religions, birds and money. The relationships between Kylee and Brysen, the other village boys and the Tamirs were unpredictable and made an absolutely addicting story. I recommend BLACK WINGS BEATING to mature teen fantasy readers who do not mind a novel on the slower side. London has the potential to write excellent subsequent installments that will have more action and less world-building and hopefully blow readers away.

Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member on October 16, 2018

Black Wings Beating (The Skybound Saga)
by Alex London