Review: Black Feathers (Black Dawn #1) by Joseph D'Lacey

March 26, 2013 4 stars, Book Review 12 ★★★★

Black Feathers by Joseph D'Lacey
Series: Black Dawn #1

Pabkin’s One Liner: So graphic it literally gave me nightmares!


Black Feathers is a modern fantasy set in two epochs: the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, and generations into the future in its aftermath, the Bright Day.

In each era, a child undertakes a perilous journey to find a dark messiah known as The Crowman. In their hands lies the fate of the planet as they attempt to discover whether The Crowman is our saviour… or the final incarnation of evil.

It’s so hard for me to describe how I felt about reading Black Feathers. The concept was so interesting and the mystique of the Crowman fascinating. I really came to care for the characters Gordon and Megan. The story is done in one of those alternating timeline styles where you follow these two very young early teens. Megan lives in the future during the time of The Bright Day (long after the apocalypse) and Gordon lives in the past during the apocalyptic time of the Black Dawn. During Gordon’s lifetime society is crumbling, natural disasters are prevalent and disease is running rampant.

I read a review recently that mentioned a new sub genre called “grimdark” where the content is so dark and graphic – I would say Black Feathers might almost fit into that category. I know there is probably darker stuff out there but I was so surprised by how grisly Black Feathers was mostly because of the two main characters being around the age 14. However, since there is a “bright day” I suppose one would consider that its silver lining and that someday things would be better, but I found it so hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel. I think that is exactly what D’Lacey was going for.

There are a few scenes that made me squirm and left me downright shaken…one even disgusted. Not that it was overly graphic I suppose – but that the images it left me with and the things hinted at painted even more horrific pictures in my mind. I believe what the mind can imagine can always be worse, we are often the creators of our worse nightmares. These scenes are of course depicting people and the cruelties they are capable of. I fully believe people are capable of these horrible acts…at first I was going to write ‘unspeakable acts’. But I think that is part of the point the D’Lacey was trying to make here, that they aren’t unspeakable – they have to be acknowledged. Perhaps we demean the victims of such crimes by wanting to ignore them. Of course many of us would shy away from these realities and this type of fiction. I would think everyone loves their fiction with a good dose of comedy and sunshine, I know I generally do. If that is all you want – this is not what you are looking for. D’Lacey brings the pain and face punches you with it and throws you in a bush full of thorns after just to hammer the point home.

Gordon, our protagonist, experiences and witnesses many things that no person, let alone a child should ever see in their life. He’s hardened by it, but still maintains his compassion and the core of who he is. It was gratifying to see him grow and become a man in such a short time. My main pet peeve was that I wanted to see more achieved in this first installment, some goal reached, but it felt very much the setup for the next to come.

Quite honestly, I didn’t always enjoy this reading experience but I definitely don’t regret it. Indeed I wept for the sweet girl Gordon could have loved and cursed D’Lacey for what became of her. I both loved and hated it in turns. I don’t know if that was the desired effect but it was a strong one. What is going to become of Gordon and Megan and will I want to throw rotten produce at D’Lacey if he hurts them?

Seldom does it happen that I get so upset by a book that I literally have nightmares after having read it. I have to say though that this wasn’t a bad thing – even though this is “fantasy” there were some dark truths herein that could definitely be a future that might someday come to pass (and maybe with some magic thrown in to boot). If you like a gritty apocalyptic that will have you thinking this may be for you but definitely not recommended for the feint of heart, there be no rainbows and fluffy bunnies here kiddos.

Tabitha the Pabkins

Black Feathers

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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12 Responses to “Review: Black Feathers (Black Dawn #1) by Joseph D'Lacey”

  1. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I hadn’t heard of this before, but it sounds really interesting. Wow, that graphic huh? I think that would make me like it more. I’m weird like that lol!! I think I will definitely be adding this to my TBR list.

      • Amy @ Book Loving Mom

        I wouldn’t say I like brutality, but if it fits with the story I am all about the visual imagery I get. The more emotion (even if it is disturbing) a book brings out in me, the more I enjoy it.

        • Tabitha the Pabkins

          Oh I get you. Then Yes – Black Feathers brought out alot of emotion with me. And the brutality does fit with the story. It was just so unexpected. You know?

          • Amy @ Book Loving Mom

            I totally get what you mean. Sometimes books are harsh and disturbing to read, but it makes them really good if it’s done well. This sounds like it is.

  2. Miranda Jackson

    Wow! Sounds too scary for me…. I like my fluffy bunnies – at least at the end of a book.

  3. Richelle Clementon

    This book sounds intriguing. I’m not opposed to reading about the darker sides of human nature. I have plenty of my own nightmares, what’s a few more? 🙂 I like my fluffy bunnies with a side of manic apocalyptic sadism.

  4. [email protected]

    Oh, I’m not so sure about this book. While I like a dark and graphic book now and then, I’m not always in the mood for them. It can be a bit… too heavy, you know. When I’m busy with school, I like to dive in something a bit more easy and light :p

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I agree this one was really somber and dark feeling the entire time. So unless you are in the mood to be sad this is definitely not easy and light. I’m hoping the second book in the duology is more uplifting.

  5. kimberlybuggie

    This sounds like such an interesting book! Your review totally makes me want to read it, though I have been warned! I am so intrigued!

    Happy Reading and thanks for sharing. At least I know going into it it’s not going to be a light read!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes forewarned – it will make you want to grab your favorite stuffed animal and beg for a snuggle cause you’ll be so sad. Haha I’m thinking book two will have more of that silver lining that I’m looking for. I found out this was originally the first half of a big book but the pubs had it split into a two book set.