Black Wings Beating – Alex London

Black Wings Beating by Alex London

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: September 25th, 2018
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, War, Animals, Adventure, LGBTQIA+


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.


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.


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