Review: On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

Publication Date: December 27th, 2011
Format: E-ARC from Net Galley

“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 is with him because of her.

Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.


On a Dark Wing is a story about Abby Chandler’s encounter with Death and Death’s obsession with her soul. On the day that Abby was supposed to die, her mother made a deal to take her place instead. That set up her life-long connection with the Grim Reaper (Death), which incidentally, she was unaware of.

Death seems inescapable in Abby’s life – mostly because she lives in a funeral home. A bit of an overkill, I know, given the theme of this book. But I could honestly say it added to the spooky ambience and main character’s obscure personality.

Abby has a whole slew of insecurity issues. To some, she may even come off as a petulant, whiny teenager. But this didn’t deter me from her liking her. The root of all her self-deprecation goes as deep as bearing the guilt over her mother’s death. In some ways, I found it redeeming that she drew strength from her weaknesses; using them as an armor to pad her none-existent self confidence. Abby’s voice come off even more authentic as I got to know her. The workings of her mind read like that of a confused, constantly tortured teen. She has a difficult life at school and even more difficult life at home. Her relationship with her father is, on a good day, strained and contemptuous on a worst day. But what I like was that they never stopped trying no matter how tensed their relationship were.

She got constantly bullied for reasons other than being weird. But she stood up for herself with her sharp mind and equally sharp tongue. She cared so little about being an outcast. Her one and only friend was a boy in a wheelchair who was a constant crusader in her defense. To top it all off, she’s perpetually disgusted with her body. For some readers, she could be considered as the quintessential anti-heroine…but not for me. Her flaws were endless which made her more real and so easy to identify with.

I could never understand how an author manages to convince the reader to root for a romance that in reality, would be next to impossible to come into fruition. Take Nate and Abby. They’re poles apart. The unobtainable and the loser. I wish Nate’s character wasn’t so one dimensional – because perhaps, I could’ve developed a fondness for this pairing. Abby was entirely obsessed with Nate; so much so that she has created a Nateworld in her head. I’m trying to remember how I was at Abby’s age and yeah. I get it. To love someone so out of your reach to the point of spending every waking and sleeping moments thinking about that person isn’t really healthy but I understood where she was coming from. I’ve been there. But like I said, I just wish I knew WHY. What is it about Nate? In the end, I never really got to know Nate. Cryptic, much? My main issue with this is that there was such a huge build up over this one-sided romance. In the end…well…I was a deflated balloon. BUT! But. I liked the EVENTUAL ROMANCE in this book.

I’m also a bit put off with the multi-person POV. Call me simple, but when I read, I like focusing on one person’s take on the story. I like having that nagging feeling of not knowing what the other character was going through. (I could never begin to explain why I loved Melina Marchetta’s multi-person POV…and I’m not even going to try). I am also not a fan of switching from first person to third. It tells me that the author is unable to give each person their unique voices, hence the switch…but what do I really know?

For the better part of Nate’s POV, I learned that Abby was right. He doesn’t know she exists. He’s only focused on climbing Denali. If you’re not into mountain climbing, being inside his head was, for the most part, boring. You learn so little about him.

Death seems so harmless from someone who brings an end to everything. He sounded more evil in the synopsis than his actual portrayal in the book.
If you ask me, the creepy facets of this book came primarily from the author’s writing. It was in the way she described how it was like to have dead people in the basement waiting for spring thaw so they can be buried. It was in the way a murder of crows seems to appear whenever Abby was alone. It was in the way that Abby’s dreams easily overturn to nightmares. Oh! And the bone-chilling way Abbey found out which Nate has been meeting her every night by the fire pit. *cue scary music*

Now, I know I’m going on and on about the ways this book didn’t suit me but trust me, there were a lot of good in this book.

The tangible unspoken grief between Abby and her father was ubiquitous in every scene they have together. It was painful to watch.

The timeline header for every POV switch added a sense of foreboding menace. It almost felt like watching a movie with the ominous music playing in the background.

I applaud the author for the picturesque depiction of the scenery and of the chilly Alaskan climate. This is a great book to curl up to beside a fireplace on a blustery day or night. Although night would be most ideal for the creep factor.

The plot took forever to get going but when it finally happened, the story moved in an unrelenting heart-thumping sequence.

All in all, On a Dark Wing was a spooky but enjoyable read for me. Despite my complaints, I found the story line to be a novel idea amongst all the other death harbinger books out there.

Thanks to Net Galley and HarlequinTEEN for the ARC.

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