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Black Wings Beating

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The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists. Brysen strives to be a great falconer--while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, t The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists. Brysen strives to be a great falconer--while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe. Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he's long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother's future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.


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The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists. Brysen strives to be a great falconer--while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, t The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists. Brysen strives to be a great falconer--while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe. Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he's long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother's future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

30 review for Black Wings Beating

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adam Silvera

    OFFICIAL BLURB: "BLACK WINGS BEATING takes the fantasy genre to soaring new heights with its epic thrills, heart-punching romance, and a marvel of a hero." So happy I got to read BWB early. Alex London does some one-of-a-kind storytelling here. (While waiting for this one, I definitely recommend checking out his futuristic thrillers PROXY and GUARDIAN. I really love those books too!)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lola

    At first glance, this may seem like an original tale. (The cover sure is.) After all, who knew birds could play such a huge role in a story. But the more I read, the less impressed I became. I did find the idea of training birds for different purposes interesting, and even fighting an opponent for money along with your trained bird. Except, when it came time to discuss the war that may or may not happen, I was like, ‘‘Here we go again.’’ Perhaps it’s bad timing, perhaps I would have liked this mor At first glance, this may seem like an original tale. (The cover sure is.) After all, who knew birds could play such a huge role in a story. But the more I read, the less impressed I became. I did find the idea of training birds for different purposes interesting, and even fighting an opponent for money along with your trained bird. Except, when it came time to discuss the war that may or may not happen, I was like, ‘‘Here we go again.’’ Perhaps it’s bad timing, perhaps I would have liked this more if I had read it some other time, because the last 10 fantasy books I read all had war settings. Then again, I did expect it. The word ‘‘war’’ was clearly there in the synopsis. But the reasons for war in this story are by no means different from so many other fantasy books. Besides, even if in the beginning the idea of a ‘‘mystic’’ bird held my attention, it turns out that birds all not all that interesting. To add to the disappointment, I could not take these characters seriously. Brysen is in love with a jerk who doesn’t even believe in him and is the kind of person to make tons of bad decisions. I thought I would connect to his sister Kylee, but this girl who appeared pretty kickass in the beginning ended up behaving so stupidly I couldn’t believe my eyes. I mean, when you make your characters do stupid things only so your story can go in the direction you want it to, it’s really hard to take you seriously. Kylee was aware of what she was doing, so why would she have made transparent her abilities like that. Nope, I don’t buy it. I did like the action scenes and writing, but none of the characters spoke to me and, instead of being captivated by the war setting, its predictability left me unmoved. Not all bad, but I do recommend this author’s other YA series PROXY a little more. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mackenzi

    Hi, I love this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    chandler ainsley ❁

    gay. pokemon comparisons. young adult. fantasy. fuck me all the way up.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joshee Kun (조수아)

    Thank you, Macmillan, for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. There was an invisible tether that bound them to each other. Each of them was the falcon, each the falconer. Have you ever read a book reminiscent of Pokemon? Because I couldn't help but imagine the domesticated birds in this book as Pidgey, Spearow, and their evolved forms. Moreover, Brysen and Kylee were on a quest to find a ghost eagle, which was virtually a legendary Pokemon like Articuno. Basically, it was my first t Thank you, Macmillan, for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. There was an invisible tether that bound them to each other. Each of them was the falcon, each the falconer. Have you ever read a book reminiscent of Pokemon? Because I couldn't help but imagine the domesticated birds in this book as Pidgey, Spearow, and their evolved forms. Moreover, Brysen and Kylee were on a quest to find a ghost eagle, which was virtually a legendary Pokemon like Articuno. Basically, it was my first time to encounter such a bird-centric novel, so I had a fascinating time reading Black Wings Beating. Besides its outstanding premise, this book had a very interesting setting wherein people were either Uztari or Altari. The former loved the sky and all its creatures, while the latter loved the earth and its resources. Given their opposite passions, these two clans were in perpetual conflict. Some Altari became Kartami, extremists who desired to eliminate everyone who loved the sky and trained birds. All these things contributed to the book's intricate world-building. Still, be warned that the first 50 pages could be info-dumpy. Hopefully, the finished copy will have a helpful glossary. Otherwise, you might be annoyed by all the unfamiliar terms. As a fan of family dynamics in YA, I also enjoyed how this book emphasized the bond between siblings. Contrary to popular belief, not all twins get along so well. Jealousy and resentment caused Brysen and Kylee to have frequent disagreements. Fortunately, the twins managed to mend their relationship after confessing their dark secrets. Kylee's was so easy to guess, and it became one of the reasons for my rating. Although she did it to save a loved one, I couldn't believe that she had the guts to commit such a crime. What a tragedy! Among all the characters, Brysen was the least likable. He tended to be envious, impulsive, and downright naive. I really disliked that he risked his life for someone so shallow and manipulative. In the end, his motivation for catching the ghost eagle was pathetic. I'm pretty sure that other readers will be triggered by the unhealthy romance in this book. Ugh, if only Brysen had been wiser in choosing a lover. In the end, Black Wings Beating was predominantly entertaining, especially because it appealed to my fondness for Pokemon. It was my first time to read an Alex London novel, so my reading experience was a bit enlightening. However, don't expect to meet characters who will steal your heart.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    I've been waiting for his next book after PROXY & GUARDIAN like forever.... after read thoughts: Honestly, It was hard for me to get into the story. I can't get my head around all that falconry and or falcon battle... And the political in it...just... thin. It didnt make me feel like on the edge of world war... The story was way more enjoyable when it came to the action; The twin launched the guest to capture the legendary ghost eagle (whatever it is) and it's brilliantly tied to their past. I h I've been waiting for his next book after PROXY & GUARDIAN like forever.... after read thoughts: Honestly, It was hard for me to get into the story. I can't get my head around all that falconry and or falcon battle... And the political in it...just... thin. It didnt make me feel like on the edge of world war... The story was way more enjoyable when it came to the action; The twin launched the guest to capture the legendary ghost eagle (whatever it is) and it's brilliantly tied to their past. I hope that there'll be characters development in the next installment.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Malanie

    You know that one character, the one dumber than a box of rocks and yet somehow everyone adores him?? YURS, HIS NAME IS BRYSEN. I love this book, but I would have enjoyed it so much more if Brysen pulled his head out of his *ss for one second and realized his sister DOES have feelings and DOES deserve his loyalty/care. Just, I don't know, A THOUGHT. PLOT This story is about two siblings, Kylee and Brysen, who live in a world where predatory birds are revered/worshiped/the cultural touchstone. The You know that one character, the one dumber than a box of rocks and yet somehow everyone adores him?? YURS, HIS NAME IS BRYSEN. I love this book, but I would have enjoyed it so much more if Brysen pulled his head out of his *ss for one second and realized his sister DOES have feelings and DOES deserve his loyalty/care. Just, I don't know, A THOUGHT. PLOT This story is about two siblings, Kylee and Brysen, who live in a world where predatory birds are revered/worshiped/the cultural touchstone. The siblings are falconers, but Kylee is ready to pay off their fathers' depths and get out of the business. Her brother, however, is a selfish a**hole and she's constantly looking out for him, dragging him out of trouble. Brysen is a romantic, desperately in love with his boyfriend. So when his boyfriend is threatened, Kylee has to help him capture a ghost eagle to pay off his depths. Which is known as an impossible task. The ghost eagle is pretty much God. The situation is f*cked up, but Kylee is willing to do anything to protect her brother. BECAUSE SHE'S DA BEST AND DA BOMB. She also deserves better but most girls do. So, they go on an adventure through their gorgeous and intricate setting, with Brysen being ungrateful :) and Kylee being loving and protective :) I promise it's fun times. The Birds! I loved the way the birds are described in this. THE CULTURE, HOLY GUACAMOLE. I was thinking the entire time, wtf is this culture, also falcons are for sure the new dragons. I even got Mad Max vibes. I just loved it so much. This was original, ingenious, and the imagery gave me FEELINGS. Overall I'm surprised this book isn't getting more hype. It's one of the best fantasy books I've ever read, Kylee is my golden cheerio (she's maybe even aromantic rep??) and it's just.....a hoot of a book. oh my god i'm so sorry. | ✨TWITTER✨ | ✨INSTAGRAM✨ | ✨BLOG✨ |

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jaime Arkin

    This was my first Alex London book, and it definitely won’t be my last. I picked this up and read it in less than 24 hours. I was just completely enthralled with the world and characters London has created with this story. Twins, Brysen and Kylee live with their mother on the outskirts of Six Villages. Brysen wants only to become a famous falconer and Kylee wants just the opposite, to be free of the debt they acquired upon the death of their father and falconry all together. Brysen has spent his This was my first Alex London book, and it definitely won’t be my last. I picked this up and read it in less than 24 hours. I was just completely enthralled with the world and characters London has created with this story. Twins, Brysen and Kylee live with their mother on the outskirts of Six Villages. Brysen wants only to become a famous falconer and Kylee wants just the opposite, to be free of the debt they acquired upon the death of their father and falconry all together. Brysen has spent his early years ducking his father’s fists quite unsuccessfully, while Kylee tried to protect him as much as she could, but there is a huge divide between them that was apparent from the start of this story. When the boy Brysen loves life is threatened, he’s determined to do whatever he can to save him… that means he has to head up the mountains and catch the Ghost Eagle, the very bird that killed his father. But the village is on the brink of war, and as they head up the mountain they aren’t alone and Kylee and Brysen find that despite the many issues between them, they still need each other. I really loved the world building with this story. The falconry aspect was fascinating to me and it’s apparent that London did his research! The characters were intriguing and if you know me, you know I love reading other people’s interpretations of the relationships of twins. I do have to say that I kind of struggled with Brysen a bit. He had some pretty bad tunnel vision about the guy he was so determined to risk his life over, and I kind of saw the ending twist coming early on. I hope to see a bit more growth in his character in the next book. Kylee was intriguing to me. She had this gift that her brother would kill for, and she was determined not to use it. I think it made a lot more sense to me as I read on, where you got a bit more visibility into how not being able to control the words could cause more harm than good. Overall, this story was a departure from my most recent reads and I think that’s why I really was so intrigued. The plot is unique, the world is really well crafted and the story is so well told and filled with action. If you are a fan of fantasy and love unique stories, then I highly recommend grabbing this one upon release. I can’t end this without mentioning that cover at least once! It’s beautiful and I can’t wait to get a finished copy on my bookshelves. Thank you to the publisher for an early copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    As I reach the conclusion of this book, I'm a little in awe, a little annoyed, and mostly confused. Let me start, though, with what I really love about this. The Intricate World The Uztari are built on a society of falconry. They catch birds of prey, train them, sell them, use them as weapons, messengers, companions, and guides. The beginning was a bit heavy on backstory building this world, but it really left no day-to-day detail untouched. From their greetings, the two-winged salute, to their As I reach the conclusion of this book, I'm a little in awe, a little annoyed, and mostly confused. Let me start, though, with what I really love about this. The Intricate World The Uztari are built on a society of falconry. They catch birds of prey, train them, sell them, use them as weapons, messengers, companions, and guides. The beginning was a bit heavy on backstory building this world, but it really left no day-to-day detail untouched. From their greetings, the two-winged salute, to their language, calling kids hatchlings, and the rules of battle, this really felt like a genuine society built around birds, hence the well-deserved comparison to Pokemon. Gayness One of our main characters, Brysen, is openly gay and his gayness is NOT used as a plot point. He simply is and everyone is cool with that. "Who can tell a heart on which branch to land?" Kylee Okay, so we've seen Kylee before, the young, teenage girl who feels responsible for the protection of her family. However, Kylee has this awesome ability to command birds...even though she suppresses that ability which we will get into shortly THE THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE The World-Building at Large As detailed as the day-to-day, village life is described and organized, beyond that, I can't tell who is in charge. There's Altari (??), Kartami (religious extremists), and the Uztari (the falconers.) Then there's the council of 40, the Sky Castle, and the Tamir family. I *think* the Sky Castle are the rulers and the council of 40 are part of the Sky Castle, and if that's the case then I don't understand why Kylee and Bryson would care about the Tamir family. They're not royalty, so can't Kylee and Bryson just tattle to the real powers that be? Full disclosure, I listened to this as audiobook so maybe I'd have a better handle on things if I'd read it on the page. The Structure This is mostly told from Kylee and Brysen's perspective...but, then there are one-off chapters interspersed from random people who aren't really important to the story. I would spend most of those chapters trying to figure out who they were and why they mattered. There are also some back-in-time chapters that discuss events long past, and rather than grant understanding, they pull the story backward. There's this budding war between the Kartami and the Uztari that felt a little like "Winter is Coming." They keep talking about it building, but I would have liked to SEE that in an attack on the village or with an explanation as to why now? Why, in a society with a history of tension is war coming now? I would have preferred more history about their mother, (who is Kartami and married a falconer. Why?) than some of these other chapters. Brysen Is the worst. He shows up to work late and hungover, can't manage to write down the bird weights (his one task) and forces Kylee to suppress her wonderful bird-voice gift to protect his fragile ego. Then he goes and volunteers her for a life of debt to save his loser boyfriend on an impossible task. This is not a new story for us, ladies. We have a thousand year history of suppressing our skill, intelligence, and hard work in order to shield masculinity. While Kylee trains the birds, feeds them, takes care of their mother and manages their debts, he blows money on drugs and his boyfriend, and then takes the glory for Kylee's diligence, wasting never a second to throw her under the bus. The only reason this is NOT getting the ridiculously-sexist tag is because of the Owl Mothers, a women-led society in the mountains. I also think the author meant well. I feel like he was trying to create unique characters,(which he did) and to make unique characters, sometimes you have to make them unlikable. But for unlikable characters, I personally either like to see them have a complete turn around or end up in the bottom of a pit. All in all, this is amazing writing, interesting characters, a great concept, I just hate Brysen and want more detail on the overall world structure and budding war.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    "In stories, people said they were dumbstruck by love, but those storytellers knew nothing. Love didn't make you dumb; it made you too smart, too quickly. In the span of a breath, a person in love could imagine everything they should say and its opposite, every tone of voice they could use and why each one was a mistake. They could weigh every word and analyze every gesture.... A person in love was paralyzed by the brilliance of their own longing." 4.5 Stars. Wow, Black Wings Beating did no "In stories, people said they were dumbstruck by love, but those storytellers knew nothing. Love didn't make you dumb; it made you too smart, too quickly. In the span of a breath, a person in love could imagine everything they should say and its opposite, every tone of voice they could use and why each one was a mistake. They could weigh every word and analyze every gesture.... A person in love was paralyzed by the brilliance of their own longing." 4.5 Stars. Wow, Black Wings Beating did not disappoint in the slightest. I'll admit I was a bit hesitant going into this, especially with the mixed reviews and having just read the sheer perfection that was Muse of Nightmares but wow this book is such a great start to what's sure to be an amazing series. Going in, I was aware that Brysen was a character that people hated because of how impulsive, selfish, and unlikable he was. Well, while perhaps I don't fully understand him, I can definitely relate to him in some aspects. He's a teen who is desperate to be first in someone's heart, to be seen as not lesser, not lacking, but as a person who deserves to be treasured and thought of as great and because of it makes some stupid decisions (like chasing after the Ghost Eagle for the sake of a boy who clearly only cared about him when it was convenient). His characterization didn't bother me as much as it did other reviewers, but I get why people don't like him. Kylee, his sister, was a likable enough protagonist but I didn't see as much growth in her as I saw in Brysen . She's a caring, compassionate, powerful character who is poised for some amazing character development as the series progresses. Also, (view spoiler)[ I SHIP JOWYN AND BRYSEN TOGETHER HELLO???? ALEX LONDON IT BETTER HAPPEN. That scene in the forest? The blood sucking? The naked cuddling? UGH IM RUINED, PLS (hide spoiler)] . Now for two of the best elements of the book: the writing and worldbuilding. While Alex London's writing is definitely not Laini Taylor level, his writing is comparable to one of my favorite writers of all time Leigh Bardugo. He has a way with words, evident from the quote above, that is simultaneously poetic and compelling . As for the worldbuilding, it was just slightly below Leigh Bardugo's. While I can't sit here and write about all of the intricacies and names of places, his worldbuilding is completely understandable, never info-dumpy, and very interesting all at once. . I was apprehensive about a book based around birds as it's main magic system, but now I am fully on board and interested in it. The plot was where this book fell only slightly short. Don't get me wrong, the plot was perfectly paced, with political machinations and action brewing and always keeping things interesting. This book never had a really dull moment . But, my main complaint has to do with the way that (view spoiler)[ they caught the Ghost Eagle. It was sort of... too easy for me? They hyped it up as so dangerous and terrifying but it was caught within a chapter of them getting to the peak? It didn't bother me that much, but it was enough to make me leave off the perfect rating (hide spoiler)] . All in all, pick this up. If you're looking for a good fantasy that is slightly unorthodox with diverse characters (I believe most of the cast are PoC and Brysen is gay), look no further.

  11. 4 out of 5

    I.

    A cool fantasy, How To Train Your Dragon meets Tess of the Road. The characters were strong, the plot was exciting, and the whole idea I can't wait to see be fleshed out more in the next book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    A new and gay Alex London book iconic

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I gave this one a good ol' college try with an awesome cover and some falconry but there wasn't much of a story to build that I realized I wasn't getting in to it and skimmed through until the end and realized I didn't miss much for it's thickness. It really only moved a tick forward in creating a series that could have probably been an awesome and thoughtful retelling standalone but instead gives it up to being another derivative series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shelflove

    Loved this book so much! The writing was just exquisite and to die for! Unlike anything, I have ever read before!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Megan Manzano

    I was beyond fortunate to receive an ARC of Black Wings Beating from Farrar Straus Giroux in exchange for an honest review. If you’ve never read anything by Alex London, I say finish this review and immediately pick up his stellar young adult sci-fi duology titles, Proxy and Guardian. I read them a few years ago and I still think about those books/offer them as recommendations. When I found out Alex London was publishing another YA book, I squealed, and after having finished it, I can say it’s SO I was beyond fortunate to receive an ARC of Black Wings Beating from Farrar Straus Giroux in exchange for an honest review. If you’ve never read anything by Alex London, I say finish this review and immediately pick up his stellar young adult sci-fi duology titles, Proxy and Guardian. I read them a few years ago and I still think about those books/offer them as recommendations. When I found out Alex London was publishing another YA book, I squealed, and after having finished it, I can say it’s SO, SO, SOO, good. Before we dive into the review, which will be spoiler free, here’s a brief summary of the book. Falconers are a group of people who call, train, and raise birds – a highly praised talent in Uztar. Brysen and Kylee are twins, Brysen who has trained for years to be a Falconer and Kylee who has a gift she doesn’t want and is ashamed of using. The book starts after the loss of their father, who was a terrible person, and a lot of the twin’s behaviors ties into their relationship with their parents. A war, unknown but whispered about between the Uztar people, is on the rise and it’s in that environment the twins set out to capture a Ghost Eagle. For Brysen, he goes to save the boy he loves. For Kylee, she goes to protect her brother and come face to face with the mistakes of her past. What I enjoyed about Black Wings Beating the most was the complex duality between Brysen and Kylee. While themes of this novel are power, one’s upbringing, and hard decisions, the plot centers around the relationship between the twins. Brysen and Kylee are constantly on edge with one another because they each have a trait the other is lacking. Kylee is everything Brysen wants to be and Brysen has this vulnerability and simplicity that Kylee wants. These differences have placed them in a relationship that snaps and bends more than it works together, but when it does, it tugs at your heart strings. At the end of the day, Kylee and Brysen do love each other. It merely takes time and a lot of struggle to realize it. These are not your ordinary siblings and their complexity makes them memorable. Another aspect I loved about this book was the writing. Alex London crafts an extraordinary world that enhances the fantasy genre and brings the reader into the action early on. You get beautiful writing, a great depth of character expression, and small snapshots at the end of each section that set up for what’s to come. You also get vivid descriptions of birds – so much so they become characters of their own. They’re also epic and monstrous and terrifying. You can see how much effort and research was put into not only building this world, but every other detail to make it as real as possible. This book is a must read and you should not be sleeping on Alex London’s work. Black Wings Beating gets a solid 5/5 feathers from me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Strolle

    You've never read a fantasy quite like this Official blurbage to come :D

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elysia

    Trigger Warnings: Mentions of Past Parental Abuse, mentions of past self harm, gore This was an enjoyable fantasy centred around the traditions of Falconry, and the love between a sister and brother as they seek to protect each other.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alexis (TheSlothReader)

    4.5 stars. I thought the world building could have been a little stronger, but otherwise I really liked the characters and thought the story was refreshing.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marielle

    Thanks to a giveaway at my amazing independent bookstore, I got the chance to read this unbelievably awesome book before it actually gets released! This was one of the most amazing, well crafted worlds I've read in a long time. And you get all the intricacies of this without a lot of words. But you don't need them. You understand everything fully, as you follow along with Kylee and Brysen (who are impossible not to fall in love with). My only complaint: because I read this book early I now have Thanks to a giveaway at my amazing independent bookstore, I got the chance to read this unbelievably awesome book before it actually gets released! This was one of the most amazing, well crafted worlds I've read in a long time. And you get all the intricacies of this without a lot of words. But you don't need them. You understand everything fully, as you follow along with Kylee and Brysen (who are impossible not to fall in love with). My only complaint: because I read this book early I now have to wait even longer for the next book in this series!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sylvie Bower

    YES THIS IS A SERIES THANK GOD

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vicky Who Reads

    4 stars Fantasy is one of the genres I'm the most picky with, and this one just ended up being not as perfect for me as I expected. Black Wings Beating is an extremely well-written fantasy debut filled with falconry and magic and all sorts of political strife. It was basically set up for me to love: it had diverse characters, it's an #OwnVoices novel for queer characters, and it had a solid premise. So, I'm honestly left kind of confused as why I wasn't "OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER." But I thin 4 stars Fantasy is one of the genres I'm the most picky with, and this one just ended up being not as perfect for me as I expected. Black Wings Beating is an extremely well-written fantasy debut filled with falconry and magic and all sorts of political strife. It was basically set up for me to love: it had diverse characters, it's an #OwnVoices novel for queer characters, and it had a solid premise. So, I'm honestly left kind of confused as why I wasn't "OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER." But I think I've gotten down to the bottom of it. I wasn't really invested, which was largely a cause of low-key despising one of the characters. #sorrynotsorry, but Brysen, man, I really disliked you. And it's not like he was a terrible person at the beginning or end of the book! His character grew and he had a solid and understandable backstory and had flaws that were eventually worked on. His growth was done really well, but he just had qualities that personally nag on me, like being ungrateful. It's all really justified and London does an amazing job shaping his character arc, but wow that kid was a serious mood killer. He was ungrateful for his sister, he was reckless, too proud, but also he's a boy and he's flawed and he has a lot to learn in life. And he does learn, and it turns out to be a great story, but I just wanted to bang my head against the wall for some of the things he did. BECAUSE UGH WHY. It's like watching a trainwreck happen as Brysen does reckless things and Kylee has to clean up his mess. And I can't emphasize enough how Brysen's arc was written really well! I just personally didn't like him as a character for most of it. And it's possible to write books with unlikeable characters, but in Black Wings Beating, it felt like my dislike for Brysen seeped into the other parts of the story because of his actions. At this point, it probably seems like I despised this book, but I actually ended up really liking it in the end. Sure, Brysen got on my nerves, but I also understood why, and also believe that his character won't bother other readers as much as it did with me. (I just find ungrateful narrators even more irritating than angsty love triangles ones.) Kylee was a totally awesome character, and I loved reading about how she kept denying her power, which is something we don't really see in fantasy. I enjoyed reading how this was different from the norm. Plus, the politics and political machinations were SO ON POINT. I thought London did an amazing job building this book up, and I so loved how the world is being built and how much is in store for us. Because of how Brysen changed throughout the book, I'm actually super excited to read book 2. There are so many good things in store for the characters (or, well, exciting bad things), and I am totally going to pick that up! (Also, Brysen has a new love interest who's not a douchebag.) It sucks, but me not connecting with Brysen was honestly why I didn't love this as much as I hoped to. This was still a great book, and one I'd definitely recommend, but for me personally, parts of it didn't click. (Also, I guess I don't like birds as much as I thought I did. They're honestly kinda scary.) I would recommend this if you're looking for a diverse fantasy read feat. LGBTQ+ main characters and falcons and all sorts of avian goodness! Thank you so much to Macmillan and Netgalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review! Blog | Instagram | Twitter

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Mae

    The description had me at “falconry”. Holy freaking falcons Batman, I’m looking forward to reading this!

  23. 4 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    3.5 Stars! This is a dark, fascinating YA fantasy that didn't quite meet my (admittedly high) expectations. I loved the world-building of this dangerous place on the brink of war that revolves around falconry and birds of prey as status and commerce. It felt completely new and unique as far as a fantasy world goes. None of the usual dwarves and elves, etc., although there is an epic quest! Who doesn't love an epic quest. One of my favourite things about this book was the writing. I was impressed 3.5 Stars! This is a dark, fascinating YA fantasy that didn't quite meet my (admittedly high) expectations. I loved the world-building of this dangerous place on the brink of war that revolves around falconry and birds of prey as status and commerce. It felt completely new and unique as far as a fantasy world goes. None of the usual dwarves and elves, etc., although there is an epic quest! Who doesn't love an epic quest. One of my favourite things about this book was the writing. I was impressed with how London seamlessly integrated the mentality and mythology of the world he created both in the language the characters use and in the language used to tell the story. Some beautiful metaphors and sayings involving birds and falconry were scattered throughout the book, but never in a way that felt unnatural or like London was trying too hard. I loved Kylee, one of the two main characters. She has a special ability to speak the ancient language of birds, but it's a gift she's always resisted since falconry has been tainted for her by her abusive father. She's tough, smart, compassionate, and complex. I've seen some readers reading her as ace, which I definitely saw, as well as aromantic. I wish the book had been more explicit about this, and that it hadn't had people who apparently know her well nudging her to reciprocate the feelings of a boy who likes her. This felt especially odd considering the world didn't seem to have homophobia (another point on its own which is very cool! I love when SF/F chooses to do that!). I hope her identities are explored more and affirmed in further books. (This is the first of a series). Her brother Brysen, the other main character, though, I have to admit I kind of disliked. I had a hard time connecting with him and resented how his actions negatively affected Kylee. He's selfish, reckless, impulsive, and wracked with jealousy over Kylee's abilities, all qualities that lead to a relationship with his sister where she's constantly making up for his shortcomings, fixing his mistakes, and protecting him. I would have really preferred a sibling dynamic where their strengths and weaknesses could have balanced each other, instead of having this lopsided situation where the girl is given all the responsibility of making sure their expedition is a success while her brother thoughtlessly chases glory and the love of a guy who is clearly a douchebag. It just felt a little too... familiar in the patriarchal way. I mean, I'm all for gay characters not having to live up to some impossible standard of goodness. I also appreciate how the story doesn't focus on Brysen's queerness at all, although his bad taste in guys in one of his flaws that propels the plot forward. And I understand that many of his negative qualities can be connected to having borne the brunt of his father's horrific physical abuse. However, London chooses to construct the character with that background and my feeling sick at the abuse on Brysen's behalf didn't endear him to me as a character. I'm not sure giving a character that kind of intense childhood trauma is a good way to redeem him in the eyes of readers. Maybe that wasn't what London was doing? Not being able to empathize with one of the two main characters definitely put damper in my enthusiasm for the book at times. Overall though: a very exciting new addition to queer YA that I mostly very much enjoyed. Content warnings: some fairly graphic (for a YA) violence and suicide ideation

  24. 5 out of 5

    Francesca

    I listened to this on audible courtesy of credits I have accumulated. I want this book in my hands, I enjoyed the story but I have misgivings about the heroine who, once again, is the usual whiny, wingey usian heroine. I reserve the right to revise my thought when the second book comes out but all in all this is a great story and confirms Alexander London as an expert storyteller with a huge eye to detail and world building. The narration was good: it certainly kept me interested but I have to ad I listened to this on audible courtesy of credits I have accumulated. I want this book in my hands, I enjoyed the story but I have misgivings about the heroine who, once again, is the usual whiny, wingey usian heroine. I reserve the right to revise my thought when the second book comes out but all in all this is a great story and confirms Alexander London as an expert storyteller with a huge eye to detail and world building. The narration was good: it certainly kept me interested but I have to admit as my intro to audio was the spectacular Dread Nation it is going to be hard to live up to that. I cannot wait for this book to be available here and I really looking forward bk2

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aly Quinlan

    This book was so much fun and so creative! It’s like an epic falconry treasure hunt! This book has the best written sibling dynamic than any other book I’ve read. It perfectly describes what it’s like to have a brother or sister and to love them so unconditionally. The world building was incredible and the story sucks you right in. Would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun book with action, romance, and all the drama!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    You read one good fantasy and suddenly think you can get into this genre...but no. I was so bored.

  27. 4 out of 5

    kath | novelandfolk

    Hi, this sounds amazing and the cover is glorious. ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) From the beginning I was obsessed with the sibling relationship and the tension that came with it. Growing up, I always felt more like Kylee, destined to cast a shadow, even when they weren't trying and they didn't want to. If I could have cast my shadow off and times, I would have. But I'm going off on a long tangent here. Black Wings Beating is a book that will captivate you (Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) From the beginning I was obsessed with the sibling relationship and the tension that came with it. Growing up, I always felt more like Kylee, destined to cast a shadow, even when they weren't trying and they didn't want to. If I could have cast my shadow off and times, I would have. But I'm going off on a long tangent here. Black Wings Beating is a book that will captivate you, hook you, and pounce. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nrere

    Huge killer eagle. Not the safest pet.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    Just gorgeous. With bonus monster birds.

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