Book Review: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel
Cadence, Pennsylvania used to be a mining town. The economy never fully recovered from the mines closing down, but the town survived. But there are some disturbing signs. There’s an unseasonably high number of crows for February, and an even more unseasonable number of unusually aggressive bees.
Angelina “Angie” Dovage doesn’t pay too much attention to that at first. She’s trying to survive her last year of high school, live down her past life with her drug-addicted mother, keep her identity as Sparo (the town’s hottest DJ) secret from her classmates, and checking out the hot new boy who just moved in next door. The tall, dark, brooding boy who has a mysterious past.
This is a young adult paranormal romance, so Reece Fernandez turns out to be a supernatural being with strange powers, and also a strong attraction to Angie. And of course he feels the need to “protect” her by not telling her relevant information until much later than it would have been useful.
There’s also Rafette, a much less pleasant supernatural being who has taken an interest in Angie, and knows way too much about her mother for his appearance in Cadence to be a coincidence. Unlike the crow-based Harbingers, Beekeepers can’t be killed–or at least that’s what everyone’s been told.
On the more normal high school drama side of things, there’s Angie’s musical friends Daniel “Deno” Steinway and Lacey Taggert, and mean girl Kiera Shaw. Deno still seems to carry a bit of a torch for Angie, and is oblivious to Lacey’s interest in himself. Kiera seems intent on bringing up Angie’s supposedly sordid past at every opportunity.
Things get progressively worse in Cadence as increasing numbers of people go mad, and the real reason the Harbingers are in town approaches.
At my current age, I sympathize more with Angie’s well-meaning but out of the loop father when it comes to her apparent relationship with Reece. The story fudges a bit on the “much older guy falls in love with a teenage girl” thing, but it still comes off icky.
Thankfully, Angie’s reasonably competent on her own; it’s only supernatural problems that she needs a supernatural rescuer for.
A third kind of supernatural being comes into the plot briefly, creating a sequel hook. (Yes, of course this is a series.)
Overall…I’m not the audience for this book. It seems competently written, and I didn’t actively hate any of the characters, but they didn’t engage me either. It will probably work much better for teenagers, and more likely artsy young women.
Let’s have a video of crows being annoying!