In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have read this right before I went to sleep, it certainly gave me some very interesting and tripped out dreams. But, isn’t that a mark of a good story? Something that can affect both the conscious and the subconscious? The use of a curse and a building’s history to build this ghost story helped to add to the sense of mystery and suspense.
I’m not normally very interested in ghost stories. Even growing up, at sleep overs, I always found them a little boring. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a collection of short ghost stories which I actually enjoyed. Better yet to find a collection that makes me question my preconceptions about the world that I live in and how I am able to influence my reality.
Black Lament had a very drastic change in tone to the first three Black Wings stories. And honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it showed an amazing ability to have a changing and dynamic character; on the other, I love Maddy Black for her sass, sarcasm and wit, all of which were tainted by a black halo of depression. When they were present. However, this change in the general ambiance of the tale really should have been obvious from the title of the novel.
The end of this story was one of the most insanely powerful stories that I have read in a long time – it both made me want to cry and whoop for joy. Maddy’s constantly dramatic tale gets more intense with each book in the Black Wings series, and I’m not really sure how it can get any more potent than Black Howl. I read the entire book in about three hours – it was just IMPOSSIBLE to put down! And even four hours after finishing the last page, my head is still spinning and twirling with the tale I just read.
A Piece of Time was a very quaint short story – a tale of love, fate and the importance of family. The sweetness of this story shines from the pages left me smiling in contentment at the conclusion of this tale. Like all of Harding’s stories, there is an understanding of the spiritual world that I rarely find in good stories – instead of a bastardisation of such beliefs to suit the story, the story has been built up around the practices and beliefs themselves.
The ending of this story was completely different to what I expected – and honestly, all the better for it. Riane’s strength and independence, her very place in the world is placed under strain and, like diamonds placed under pressure, the resulting heroine that is displayed is a gem beyond compare. The haunting ending also hints at many happy events in her future, even though, at the conclusion of the story, and following her final decision, there is no hints as to what this may be.
This short story touched on a fear and worry that I myself, as a writer have – dying before I have finished telling the stories that are swirling around in my head. Harding’s grasp of this and her ability to twist this fear into a ghost story that had my spine tingling and left me internally cringing created a great short story which I am genuinely struggling to get out of my head. What better way to inspire a writer to actually write, than tell a story about one who is no longer able to put pen to paper?
Although this is a ghost story, and a phenomenal one at that, it also makes me want to do a health detox. After all, that was the instigating factor for the paranormal chaos that followed. Plus, the idea of removing toxins from the body is always an interesting one. Although, each and every person tends to have their own take on how this works, I mostly enjoyed the idea that the detox focused on removing things like alcohol and cigarettes. Yes, there were other aspects of the detox factor, but the idea to find a happier, healthier you was inherent within the characters’ motivations – something which I can appreciate. The fact that a happier, healthier body meant better access to the paranormal world and the girls’ spiritual understanding? Just a fantastic angle to the story!
The writing techniques utilised throughout this short story were nothing short of phenomenal. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the storyline and phenomenal characters that are splashed across the pages with a brilliant vividity. Although I haven’t (yet) had the privilege of reading the rest of the series, this short provided a great gateway into the series and the very sassy character of Maddy.
This was a great sequel to Black Wings – it had the same wit and humour, Maddy’s same ability to stumble unwittingly into problem after problem, and a gorgeous cast that you couldn’t help but feel attached to. Maddy’s clumsiness, and talent for putting her foot in her mouth have turned her into one of the most relatable heroines I have read recently. I’m constantly tripping over my own feet and getting confused about what I’m supposed to be doing in life – much like Maddy.