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Review: On a Dark Wing

On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane will be released officially in the U.S. on December 27, 2011 in paperback format and will be released on January 1, 2012 in eBook format.

It is currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in print format (available since December 20) and for pre-order in eBook format.

Published by Harlequin TEEN, the print edition is 320 pages.

Goodreads description:

The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn’t prepared for. And Death would be my willing teacher.

Five years ago, Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her “lucky” break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.

Now she’s the target of Death’s ravens and an innocent boy’s life is on the line. When Nate Holden—Abbey’s secret crush—starts to climb Alaska’s Denali, the Angel of Death stalks him because of her.

And Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.

***

Abbey Chandler first met Death five years ago when she was in a car accident that took her mother from her. But Death didn’t claim her then.

She has had to live for years with the memory of that day and the guilt from believing that the accident was her fault. That she was responsible for her mother’s death.

But escaping from Death’s grasp didn’t mean that Abbey was alive. Ever since the accident she’s been going through the motions. Keeping everyone at a distance. Living but not living.

That is until the day that Death decided to come back for her.

***

On a Dark Wing is a beautifully written story about love, loss, sacrifice and learning what it means to be human. This intriguing story, told through multiple perspectives, is moving and heartbreaking but still filled with hope.

Abbey Chandler nearly died in a car accident that killed her mother. And she never really recovered. She felt her mother’s absence from her and her father’s life every single day and she blamed herself.

For years she has pushed everyone away except for her only friend, Tanner Lange, who has also suffered a loss. One that left him wheelchair-bound. And the only other connection she has allowed herself is to a boy, Nate Holden, who doesn’t even know she exists.

As the anniversary of her mother’s death nears, she and her father head to their cabin in the woods to pay tribute to her memory. And it is in these woods that she meets a boy who claims to be Nate who begins to break down the walls she’s put up around her heart.

But she’s not sure if she can trust him, especially since he’s keeping secrets. And when Abbey learns the truth of what he’s been hiding from her, she’ll be forced to make a choice about who she should try to save and who she’d be willing to lose.

Author Jordan Dane has taken a wonderfully creative and different approach to death in On a Dark Wing. She has made him human. She has given him a mind and a heart. She has allowed him to think and feel. She has given him the ability to choose. And she has put him in a situation where his choices won’t be easy.

Her heroine, Abbey Chandler, isn’t an immediately sympathetic character, but one who deserves real sympathy. On the outside she’s tough and unlikable but she does have a heart and is willing to sacrifice herself for those she loves. And throughout the story, as she begins to open up, she becomes someone who is not only sympathetic but incredibly likable.

On a Dark Wing is filled with beautifully descriptive passages that will pull readers into this story. And the multiple points of view will keep them connected to it, while giving them a look at just what’s happening not only to Abbey, but to Tanner, Nate and his family.

As the story develops, the tension and suspense continue to build, keeping readers engaged as time begins to run out for Abbey and for Nate, leading up to a climactic end that will leave no one unscathed.

Reviewer gives this book…

On a personal note:

I expected something very different when I started this book. From the cover and description I imagined this book to be about something dark and sinister. What I found instead was a story that was beautiful and sad, but heartwarming.

There were definite nail-biting moments – really every single second that Nate spent on Denali had me on edge. And the description wasn’t kidding when it said that someone’s life would be on the line. But it was the beautifully written passages about Nate and about Death that kept me engaged and wanting more.

I had an immediate dislike for the main character Abbey. But that changed over the course of the story as she began to open up and let herself feel things, become less closed off and more sympathetic. By the story’s end, I did like her. Very much.

I never in a million years imagined that I’d sympathize with Death. The author made him a very real and very human character and through Abbey’s eyes, I saw him as something more and wanted a happy ending for him.

Well, maybe not happy. He is Death after all. But something not so cold and empty. Something less final. And even though I know what he did was so wrong, I couldn’t help but root for him.

I especially loved Tanner Lange, Abbey’s best friend, and Nate’s family. These characters really helped fill in this story, which might have been one that was too difficult to connect to, with their warmth and kindness and their love for Abbey and Nate.

I loved that the author alternated between Abbey’s point of view, told in the first person, to the point’s of view of Tanner, Nate, Nate’s mother and Nate’s father, told in the third person. These were the characters I loved the most from the start, and being able to see the story unfold from their perspective, and not just Abbey’s, made what was happening all the more nerve-wracking.

The story starts off at a slower pace as it sets up for things to come, but once Nate begins his trek on Denali, it immediately kicks into high gear and I couldn’t read fast enough. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen to Nate, why Death was stalking him and just why Death was so interested in Abbey.

And after I learned what I did about Death’s connection to Abbey – which I won’t reveal here – I had no idea how this story could possibly end in any other way than tragedy.

I suppose I should have expected a story about Death to also be one about loss and love and guilt and starting over, but I didn’t. I think I was blinded by the gorgeous cover and eerie tagline – “Death never forgets….”

So, while this story was so completely different than the one I anticipated, it is one that I love, which left me with bitten nails, an ache in my heart for what was lost, but hope for what might come.

***

There were quite a few beautiful passages that really stuck with me. Twelve, actually. But I can’t list them all, or even most of them as they are slightly spoiler-y. Especially my favorite one which is a quote from Death.

But this description of Nate as Abbey sees him is just so perfect. It tells a little bit about Nate and a whole lot more about Abbey.

Even with his back to me, every side of Nate Holden was excellent. I love how his dark hair curled at his collar and he always smelled good, but with a full frontal, his hypnotic blue eyes made me forget to breathe. Whenever he talked, his lips could mesmerize me for hours, too. Being next to him felt like getting sucker punched–and liking it.

To read an excerpt from the prologue of On a Dark Wing from the author’s blog, CLICK HERE.

This review is based on an eARC I received from Harlequin TEEN and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

***

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