As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black is responsible for escorting the souls of the dearly departed to the afterlife. It's a 24/7 job with a lousy benefits package.My Thoughts: This is the first in a new series, and although definitely an urban fantasy, it's roots are in Christian mythology. It uses stories that are not are an official part of the bible, though they have been around just as long, and tweaks them. That caught my eye, and my interest, right off the bat.
Maddy's position may come with magical powers and an impressive wingspan, but it doesn't pay the bills. And then there are her infuriating boss, tenant woes, and a cranky, popcorn-loving gargoyle to contend with.
Things start looking up, though, when tall, dark, and handsome Gabriel Angeloscuro agrees to rent the empty apartment in Maddy's building. It's probably just a coincidence that as soon as he moves in demons appear on the front lawn. But when an unholy monster is unleashed upon the streets of Chicago, Maddy discovers powers she never knew she possessed. Powers linked to a family legacy of tarnished halos.
Powers that place her directly between the light of Heaven and the fires of Hell...
The story starts off fast and never lets up the pace. In short order Maddy has a new mysterious tenant (though, for me, the name was a dead giveaway), her job goes awry, other Agents of Death start dying themselves when it's not their time, and Maddy comes up against her mother's murderer. Before she knows it, she's neck deep in mysteries and plots both old and new, finds herself attracted to her tenant Gabriel (who I keep wanting to call Gabe), and discovers powers hidden within her. She also discovers her father and his somewhat dysfunctional family. Interspersed with all this, she finds herself having visions that she comes to realize are actually seeings of past events.
Although a lot is going on, Henry doesn't forget about the character development. I particularly liked when she had Maddy realize that however chaotic things were, she really needed to slow down and look, really look, at what's happening instead of just jumping from one crisis to the next. Too often, that's what the lead character in urban fantasies (and other genres) do and it gets old very quickly. I also liked that Maddy wasn't quick to trust Gabriel despite her attraction to him. She realizes that something is not right with him and pursues that before pursuing him. Maddy is no shrinking violet, she has backbone in spades, yet is also compassionate and likable.
I was less thrilled with the obstacles thrown up in the path of the possible relationship between Maddy and Gabriel, though Maddy's newfound fiance is one of those obnoxious guys you enjoy not liking. He thinks he's better than she is but he's just starting to see what she's really made of. The other obstacle, though it follows from what Henry has already established, still felt a bit fake to me.
I got a bit confused at times, and occasionally had to go back and reread sections but overall I really enjoyed this book and am ready for the next one to come out.
Release Date: November 30, 2010
The book was provided by the author in paperback form. This review originally appeared at Book Lovers Inc.