Wings to the Kingdom Review!Dan Strohschein
The second novel in a three book series, Wings to the Kingdom does not disappoint. Picking right up from the heels of Four and Twenty Black Birds, the new text holds back no punches. Chock full of the unique voice that only Cherie Priest could provide, the novel keeps readers going. Do I sound like an advertisement for the novel? Yes I do, and it's because it's THAT good. I am generally very picky about my prose, especially when it comes to the very small genre of Horror Lit nowadays. Most of the shelves are dominated by the old giants - King, Koontz, Straub, etc, so when new talent comes along, they have a rough time standing up. Most of the new writers I have read disappointed me greatly, but Priest's grasp of plot and characterization surprised me.
I can't speak about Wings to the Kingdom without giving a quick look back at Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which was Priest's debut novel - one that knocked the socks off of critics and is still steadily climbing the stairs to stardom. Four and Twenty Blackbirds revolves around a young girl named Eden, who is born with the unique ability to see ghosts - three of which she befriends. Later on in her life, when Eden is a young college age adult, she comes face to face with the nightmare that is her family history. Rich with voodoo, ghosts, crazed killers, crazy old ladies, the story is a walking example of what Southern Gothic horror should be. In the climatic ending, Eden learns that some of her villians aren't really all that bad, and gains new supernatural abilities, in addition to her gift of ghost spying.
Wings to the Kingdom picks up right after that, with Eden now in college, and fooling around with her friends. She lives in Tennesee, near an old battlefield that was active during the Civil war. The battlefield, as are all battlefields, is rumored to be haunted - but one day the rumor is turned to truth when a ghost is spotted on the field in broad daylight by a large group of people. Pretty soon everyone is seeing them, and it's causing such a panic that they close the park to the public and bring in a Psychic Investigative husband/wife team to get to the bottom of it. Eden gets reluctantly dragged into the whole mess by a family member, and discovered that the area's most infamous legend, Old Green Eyes, is wandering around free as a jail bird. Known as the guardian of the battlefield, Old Green Eyes has never been known to leave, but something has upset the whole arrangement. The story picks up more action when Eden and her friends are attacked by a gun wielding maniac in the battlefield one night, and it turns out that Old Green Eyes, the monster of the battlefield, might be their only chance to put things back to normal.
The power within this particular book isn't necessarily in the plot, but in the characters. While the story is strong and holds together well, suspending unbelievability and pulling the reader in like a light bulb draws moths, the life she gives to the characters overwhelm that immensely. Eden is protrayed so well it's almost as if I know the woman, and her idiot family member never ceases to make me laugh. After reading the book, which is a fast and delirious read, I can say for sure that we have a new sharp talent that is ready to knock the Giants off of the mantlepiece. Move over King and Koontz, we have a new master in town. I can't wait to see the last book in the series, to be done sometime in February of 2007. But then again, I don't want it to end. I highly recommend both Four and Twenty Blackbirds (From Tor Books) and Wings to the Kingdom (Coming in October of 2006, also by Tor) for any horror lit fanatic.