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WesternSFA
Black Wings
by Christina Henry
Ace Books, 2011, $7.99, 295pp
Release Date: November 30, 2010

Black Wings kicks off a new series in the urban fantasy genre. It has stylish cover art to catch the eye, with enough subtlety to hold attention. The writing is lucid, and besides carrying the action narrative, it swirls and eddies into some lovely side-waters.

Madeline Black makes a rather incongruous Agent of Death, being short and cute, but she has an impressive wingspan. She and her fellow agents are responsible for moving souls on to the Great Beyond, although some souls get lost, or refuse the guidance, and irrevocably become ghosts. Maddy gets some guidance of her own from a stone gargoyle; unfortunately, she often ignores its advice. So a tall, dark, handsome stranger with a name that should have sent “Uh-Oh!” alarums ringing in our heroine’s head moves into her duplex. Hey, she needed the rent! Next a demon comes terrorizing Chicago , and being one of Death’s Agents proves to be no protection.

Supernatural magic abounds, and there are plenty of romantic complications tangling our heroine’s movements and creating an emotional cliff-hanger. Just like real life, that.

According to Carrie Vaughan, it is very important to support the series you like while they are still new. If the first one sells well, there will be more. But if readers wait to see if the series succeeds before they commit, it won’t. So if you’ve ever wondered what happened to so-and-so’s oh-so-promising series that petered out after only two installments, now you know: too many readers held off, and that killed the publisher’s commitment. So try to find at least one enjoyable new author a month and actually buy a book, e-format or paper, to keep them viable. ~~ Chris Paige

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