Review of Black Five by J. Lynn Bailey

No one ever accused Penelope Jackson of being normal, nor did they suspect the dark secret she keeps. A dangerous web of deceit and secrecy unravels when news of a stranger’s death put Penn on a collision course with the very person she’s been hidden from her entire life. Her fragile world is shaken to its core with the sudden arrival of Vacavious’s Morterros, and she soon discovers the bizarre and magical world surrounding her seemingly ordinary life.  No one is who they claim to be, including those closest to Penn. A mysterious security detail emerges from the shadows, scrambling to protect her as powerful forces await the fall of her protective veil on her eighteenth birthday. Penn prepares to fight against unseen villains before it’s too late. The world of Nighmerianotte and its population depends on her survival, for she is the Sanguine, the Black Five.


I feel really conflicted about this book. There were a lot of things that I loved, but also a lot of things I didn’t like at all.

First of all, it seems like no editor was involved with this at all. There were tons of errors – quotation marks missing, double quotation marks in some points, wrong homophones being used, words missing, etc. I understand that it’s pretty difficult to catch every mistake, but there were so many. It was downright distracting at times.

Another thing is that through the first half of the book so, the main character, Penn, experiences a lot of flashbacks and it was often really hard to tell when the flashback was starting or ending. I think this could have been easily avoided by using a different font or something simple like that.

I had a similar problem at times trying to figure out who was talking. There were several times where I just had no clue who was saying what.

Something stylistically that kind of annoyed me was that contractions were used sometimes, but not all the time. I couldn’t really tell, but I think the characters from the actual fantasy world, Nighmerianotte, were the ones who never used contractions. So maybe Bailey was trying to make them sound “old” but it felt choppy and robotic.

One more thing that I didn’t like was that when Penn finds out that she’s the Black Five and from Nighmerianotte, she’s given a journal that her dad wrote that basically describes and explains all the different species of Nighmerianotte. This turns out being a really long chapter that is presenting so much information that it was really hard to remember all of it, but nothing in it is ever explained at another point. So you basically can remember it from this really long (and frankly, boring) chapter or you’ll just be kind of confused a bit. I think it would have been better for the people who are training Penn to explain things here and there, rather than presenting all of that information at once.

Because of all these things, I had trouble enjoying the story as much as I could have. But there were still a lot of things that I did like.

The plot, while a bit cliche (“normal” teenage girl finds out she’s the only one that can save the world),was still interesting and enjoyable. Penn is a pretty likable character and she had a traumatic childhood that left her with anxiety and I found that anxiety to be really relatable and it made me connect to her more than I think I would have otherwise. (I was a bit disappointed that it was never explicitly described as anxiety, but oh well.)

Most of the characters were pretty complex. They were all “good” characters, but who had parts of their past that they were ashamed of or running from. This added a nice layer of realism to them.

Although this book takes place in the “mortal world” (in other words, our world) you still get a good feel of what Nighmerianotte is like and that world is really cool. I thought it was interesting to see this “caste system” between different species (vampires, werewolves, etc.). In other fantasy books that I’ve read, there’s been tension between different species, but not this sort of hierarchy.

All in all, like I said, I feel conflicted about this book. It wouldn’t accurately reflect my thoughts to give an entirely negative or an entirely positive review. I think your opinion of the book is likely to come down to how much of those editorial errors and stylistic things will annoy you and how many you’re able to overlook. As much as some of that did distract and irritate me, I did enjoy it and it’s quite possible that I’ll keep an eye out for the next book (especially since there’s a big cliffhanger at the end).

You might like this if you’re a fan of YA fantasy.

I received a digital ARC of this through NetGalley.


Let's Chat!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s