Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel Blog Tour!

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Title: Black Bird of the Gallows
Author: Meg Kassel
Pages: 300
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Release Date: 05 September 2017

From Goodreads: "A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.
Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.
What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death."

Thank you to Entangled Teen for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review! All opinions are my own.

So I have to admit, I'm pretty much addicted to all things Entangled Teen at this point. That, along with the fact that this cover is one of my favorites of 2017, had me racing to request this book to read. And I am so glad I did.

Plot:
If you were to ask me what the bare bones of this book were, I'd have to tell you that it's a YA book about a girl who falls for a mysterious boy with some supernatural elements thrown in there. Sounds kind of similar to a lot of other young adult books out there, right? Black Bird of the Gallows is anything but the same old young adult book. Angie Dovage is not your typical female main character, and Reece is not your typical dark, brooding male secondary character. The plot is creepy, unique, fun, and is perfect for the Fall reading season. I loved how things unfolded throughout the book. It doesn't have the typical insta-love that I tend to dread going into some YA books but rather a slow build of their relationship. Angie obviously immediately notices that Reece is attractive, sure, but what teenage girl wouldn't immediately notice a cute new neighbor? She's wary of him as she starts to experience the sudden appearance of a large murder of crows and strange things happening around her but she's also curious about him and his family. There's tension between the two, some seriously creepy characters that are introduced, and a pretty stinkin cute romance that blossoms between Angie and Reece. Everything from start to finish unfolded and flowed so well and I never felt like any part of the book was dragging on or moving too fast. I thoroughly enjoyed the constant creepy vibe that this book gave off and how things were "slowly" revealed. I say "slowly" not to mean that the book moved slow, but rather things weren't explained all at once. Information was given at just the right time at various parts and I really appreciated that the author didn't decide to do a huge info dump but rather draw it out and build up suspense. This was just such a fun and unique book and I think that anyone who is a fan of paranormal YA books will definitely enjoy it!

Characters:
I actually really liked Angie. As I said above, she's not the typical YA female main character. She's been through a lot of tough things in her life and it's very apparent in the way that she carries herself. Her anxiety and insecurities are very believable and I felt like her Sparo persona was something that she used to try and escape from being herself, if only for a few hours. But despite the things that she had been through, Angie never took crap from anyone, even when she was being bullied at school. She refused to let Reece play the mysterious new boy card that he kept trying to throw at her and I really respected her strength and determination to not only find out what Reece was hiding but also find out what was happening around her town. She's strong, smart, sassy, and incredibly brave and she really was just an all around great character to follow. I'd be happy to see more strong female main characters in YA like Angie in the future!

Reece was obviously the dark, mysterious new boy in town that had a bunch of secrets. While I was expecting him to be a harbinger of death (that's pointed out in the synopsis and is not a spoiler!) I certainly wasn't expecting another part of him that he revealed. It was actually really cool when he explained it all out and I found myself very intrigued with him and his past. He did pull the "typical" YA male character "I like you but we can't be together because of my dark secrets" thing but honestly, I had no problem with it since Angie basically calls him out and refuses to let him play her that way. The two of them had such an enjoyable character dynamic and they really played to each others strengths and supported them through their weaknesses. Their romance wasn't instant but rather a slow build up of trust and honesty, but I definitely found myself hoping that they would end up together! I did get the feeling that things kind of sped up a bit towards the middle part of the book, but when it was all explained, oh my goodness I could not stop smiling. Yes, even I enjoy a cute, cheesy romance every so often. Especially when it involves spoopy elements! All in all, I certainly enjoyed both characters in their own ways, but really enjoyed them together as well.

Also, quick shout out to Meg Kassel for creating the Beekeeper. That was one of the creepiest villain characters I've ever read about and I will never look at bees the same way again!

Writing:
Black Bird of the Gallows is the perfect book to pick up for some creepy Fall reading! The writing was superb and really delivered on the spooky vibes that reading the synopsis gave me. While reading this book, I imagined that Angie's town was under a permanent cloud cover and it was always chilly, and the cold would get more intense when the murder of crows would appear. I swear I wouldn't be surprised if Angie had to walk through fog to get to Reece's house! The atmosphere was exactly what I was hoping it would be and it really just allowed me to dive further into the world that Meg Kassel has created. Which, speaking of the world building, oh my goodness. The author has created such a beautifully dark and fantastic world of harbingers, Beekeepers, and something else called the Strawmen that appears to be more powerful than both of those beings. It's very clear that there was a lot of thought put into this world and the mythology in it and I would really love to see more about it in another book or novella!

Black Bird of the Gallows is an eerie and bewitching story with a world that begs to be expanded upon and characters that you want to follow well after the final page. If you're looking for an exciting new paranormal YA book to read, then you definitely don't want to miss this book!



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Guest Post Topic: Author talks about how death has been portrayed in various forms of literature and how the perception of death has evolved over the years.

*I can’t speak with authority on death in literature, as my working knowledge of the classics at this point is limited to Bronté and Austen, so if it’s okay, I’ll talk about how people equate crows with death, and how this research helped formulate the mythology behind the harbingers of death in my novel, Black Bird of the Gallows. Is that okay?*

I read a lot about death while writing Black Bird of the Gallows, which centers on a troupe of harbingers of death who travel in the form of a murder of crows and descend on a small town where they sense an impending natural disaster. There, they assume human form and wait until tragedy occurs to feed on the wave of death energy which follows. Cheerful, right? It’s hard to believe there’s a romance in there. Anyway, I was particularly interested in how the mythos of crows and death became intertwined. When writing fiction, you can take liberties. I knew I’d be inventing my own variety of supernatural creatures, but I also wanted to keep a foot, or at least a toe, anchored in something that was familiar and real and firmly moored in the the general consciousness. But I wanted to put my own spin on things. One of the things I had fun pondering was this old, anonymous nursery rhyme regarding crows:

One crow sorrow,
 two crows joy,
three crows a girl,
four crows a boy,
five crows silver,
six crows gold,
seven crows a secret,
never to be told.

SO much lore has been attached to crows and ravens, much of it also attached to death. Back when people were put to death in public displays, crows were always in attendance at gallows. Also at graveyards, which makes sense, as they’re opportunistic feeders of carrion. It’s not hard to see how people found other roles for these intelligent, mysterious birds. In Scandinavia, for example, crows are thought to be the ghosts of murdered people. In Greek mythology, the crow is associated with prophecy and the god Apollo. Virtually every culture has some powerful lore attached to the corvid. For me, it distilled down to this one element which I built my mythology around: the crow as a creature who exists in both our physical world and an unseen, spiritual one. That meant when I was fleshing out my harbingers of death, the crow part of them would always be with them, even while in human form. Even when they were trying so hard to fit in with ordinary humans. Even when they were falling in love and going to school and studying for exams, it was there, unseen.
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Giveaway!

Three (3) winners will receive A Black Bird of the Gallows canvas tote bag (11“x14”) which includes a custom made crow pendant and ball chain, bookmark and stickers, $10 Amazon Gift Card (INT):

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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About the Author:


Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer. She now lives in Maine with her husband and daughter and is busy at work on her next novel. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart© winner in YA.


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Amazon | Amazon Australia | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | B&N | iBooks | Kobo 

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2 comments

  1. Everything about this makes me want to read it even more. Great review. Thanks for sharing the guest topic too.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading! I hope you decide to pick it up :D

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