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.