Review: Black Wings Beating by Alexander London + Aesthetic Board

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Black Wings Beating by Alexander London
Genre: YA Fantasy, Fiction, Action, LGBTQIA+
Publication: September 25th 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Series: Skybound Saga #1
Length: 432 pages
Format: ARC from BEA (borrowed from my friend, Miel)
Rating: ★★★★★

Amazon || Book Depository

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.


Huge thanks to my friend Miel from Bookish and Awesome for lending me his review copy of this title. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.

The first time I heard of Alex London’s Black Wings Beating was when Adam Silvera first posted about it on Twitter and said that it “takes the fantasy genre to soaring new heights with its epic thrills, heart-punching romance, and a marvel of a hero.” And y’all know just how much I respect and trust this guy when it comes to book recommendations and it was then that I knew that I had to check it out. Good thing my friend Miel got a review copy, thanks to our awesome friends Hazel, Mish, and Joey who went to BookExpo 2018! After having read it, he, too, was captivated by BWB, and he was kind enough to lend me his copy. And now, I’m more than happy to share that it most definitely did not disappoint me. Read on to know what I thought of this breathtaking book from Alex London.

One of the many things that I adored most about this book was it’s intricate culture and world building. I loved everything about Uztar, from the way that the locals lived, to the traditional fights at the Broken Jess, and even to the alluring fantasies that came with trekking to the Sky Castle, I find that there’s plenty of reasons to be captivated by the way that the world was built. Also, the author’s process in effortlessly harmonizing the  lifestyle and mythology of the world he invented made a good impact on me, and I loved the novel more because of that. Add to that the lyrical and poetic quotes that the characters always have to say about their feelings and way of living, makes for an intricately written story.

Another thing was the unbreakable bond between the twins, Brysen and Kylee. They were almost always on edge with each other because they have traits that differ from one another. Brysen was spontaneous, ambitious, headstrong, and confident and he lived a thrilling life striving hard to be a great falconer, while Kylee, on the other hand, appears to be very wise for her age, aiming to live a very simple and peaceful life and wants to be free from falconry, all while having to suppress her ability of speaking the language of falconers. Both characters want to live with the other’s lifestyle and abilities and so this puts them both in compromising positions. They fought and they argued and for a time, I thought that they had a very toxic twin / brother-sister dynamic. But I also did realize that whenever their relationship wasn’t spiraling towards chaos, their true feelings and love for each other easily shines through. Even if they sometimes seemed like the other’s undoing, they still got each other’s backs and they were always there for one another. And even though I felt like I had an extremely hard time realizing this, I still loved the dynamic that they have. (Although if I were to be honest, I have to say I loved Kylee more than Brysen.)

The romance didn’t exactly live up to my expectations, though. I mean, yeah, Adam said it would be “heart-punching” and I’m all for queer characters expressing their true feelings for their loved ones, but in the case of Brysen and Dymian, I think it’s fair to say that in my most honest opinion, it was obvious right from the start that they had a one-sided love story that mostly fell on Brysen. Brysen would literally go to great lengths just to prove his love for Dymian, but at times, it was almost like he was completely blinded by the idea of him being in love with this boy, and so he went on to make decisions that sometimes put him on dangerous situations. He acted without completely thinking things through, and so to me, he seemed like a reckless character, one who could easily get himself killed. But don’t get me wrong. I get it. I know what love feels like. I might not have experienced that same fleeting feeling that Brysen had for Dymian, but I guess I understand what he went through. And so for that alone, I have to say that even though I didn’t really like Brysen’s character, I still respect him. And as with most of my friends, I wish he’ll get the happy ending he deserves.

“Black Wings Beating is unlike any other YA fantasy book I’ve ever read. It’s fresh, and unique, and it puts a spotlight on a story that is as intricately written as it is thrilling and allegorical. It features characters that may be hard to root for at times, but once you get the heart with which they were written, you’ll learn to love them as much as I did, if not more. I can’t say if it’s a good Alex London book since this is the first book by him that I’ve read, but I’m fairly sure that Black Wings Beating is one to look out for, especially if you like reading about fantastical characters.”

And just in case my review wasn’t enough to get you hooked, check out this aesthetic board that I made that’s inspired by Brysen, and Kylee, and Black Wings Beating:

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Have YOU had the chance to read Black Wings Beating yet? What are your thoughts? Be sure to grab yourself a copy dive right into this amazing story! Share your thoughts with me via the comments section below!

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Alex London writes books for adults (One Day The Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War), children (Dog Tags series; An Accidental Adventure series) and teens (Proxy, Guardian). At one time a journalist reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, he is now a full time novelist living in Brooklyn, NY, where he can be found wandering the streets talking to his dog, who is the real brains of the operation.

Black Wings Beating is his latest young adult novel, published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books / Macmillan US. You may find him online on his website, or on Twitter, or Instagram.

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Until the next one!

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3 thoughts on “Review: Black Wings Beating by Alexander London + Aesthetic Board

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