Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

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A hauntingly beautiful read about family, love, redemption, and what it means to be human. 

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Black Bird of the Gallows deserved the award of Goodreads Best Book of the Month (I was very happy to see this book win!), and I hope my review helps to explain why Meg Kassel’s debut deserved this award.

I should first start off by saying that I have been obsessed with this book since June, and I hadn’t even read the book at that time. I came across this book at ALA, and I knew I wanted to read Meg Kassel’s work just based on the cover. But when I found out the story inside that beautiful cover, I became immediately taken and intrigued. So then, September comes and I leave for my first road trip that month. I get home from my road trip to find a package on my counter from Entangled Teen, and inside was a copy of Black Bird of the Gallows. I was excited and did not expect this to happen, so thank you Entangled Teen for sending me a copy of this beautiful book to review. I was beyond thrilled (my nephews can testify for me that I did a little happy dance). The sad part was that I was only home for one more day before I had a second road trip, and since I was the one driving, there was no way I was going to be able to squeeze in some precious reading time. So, alas, I had to wait to read this book and trust me, I was very impatient the whole trip. I have no doubt that I annoyed my passengers. When I finally got home from that long and exhausting road trip, I immediately grabbed the book and sat down on the couch, not even bothering to unpack and not bothering to get some much needed  sleep. I was excited to dive into the world of Black Bird of the  Gallows, and the story did not disappoint.

This book has a beautifully woven plot and complex characters that pull you in from the first line. If the cover does not grab your attention, the synopsis surely will. And let me tell you, Meg Kassel does not disappoint. This haunting tale of curses and death is unique and captivating; the characters are easily likable and relatable. Angie is fighting demons from her past while facing very real demons in her present; her journey is a remarkable one and a journey that not many people would be able to finish.

There were many things I thoroughly enjoyed about Black Bird of the Gallows: 

  • The complexity of the characters: None of the characters are the same. Some are alike, but each character has their own demons, some very real. Angie fights demons from her past and has to learn to live and let go. Reece has demons that follow him every day and never go away; the life of a Harbinger is not a joyous one.
  • The Harbingers of Death and Beekeepers: I have never read anything like this tale and that’s definitely a good thing. This book brought the tale of harbingers of death and beekeepers to life and it was uniquely beautiful. All books are unique but I found this one to be slightly more unique than others, and that may be because I have yet to come across a book about harbingers, so this book is extra special to me.
  • The action: One of the great things about this book is that the action is not reduced to one page or one chapter, but instead is one/third of the book. I’ve read plenty of books where the action scene or ending is rushed, and it unfortunately is a letdown. Not with Black Bird of the Gallows. Meg Kassel does a wonderful job of creating non-stop suspense and ensuring page upon page is filled with action. The action scenes are not the type of action one would see in, let’s say, an Indiana Jones movie; these action scenes bring together the complexity of the characters and what it means to truly want to protect the people you love.
  • The fantasy/paranormal aspect: I loved the history of the harbingers of death and the beekeepers. Meg Kassel does a fantastic job of entwining history and fantasy together. I am a huge fan of fantasy novels and Black Bird of the Gallows is right up my alley.
  • The romance: It’s no surprise to me that I absolutely loved the romance between Angie and Reece. Two complex characters have a complicated and potentially forbidden romance. These two characters are perfect for each other, and Meg Kassel makes sure there is no instant love story; she spends more time focusing on the plot and what it means for the arrival of Reece and his crows. Meg Kassel definitely nailed the romance part of her debut!

Overall, this book is a must-read and one you definitely do not want to miss. Black Bird of the Gallows has easily made its way onto my 2017 Favorite Reads shelf, and it is exactly where the book belongs. Meg Kassel will be one of the authors I will read any work from, so I am looking forward to her next work (possibly a sequel to Black Bird of the Gallows? *wink, wink*)!

My rating: 5/5 stars


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