The first half of The Shadow of Black Wings was a bit hard to read. It's not that it was boring, or anything. I just had to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how all of the names were pronounced - I'm terrible with Celtic names. Things got much easier in the second half of the book, which took place in future/not-quite-past Japan. I find it a bit sad that I had better luck figuring out the Japanese names than I did the Celtic and Norse ones.
The story itself is part fantasy, part alternate history, and part steampunk. It takes place in the future of a past where the Roman Empire never fell. Which is only really mentioned once or twice, and then the focus of the story moves away from that aspect entirely.
It was an okay read. I didn't really start getting interested until the second half of the book.
The ending leaves you with a bit of a cliffhanger, and doesn't answer very many questions. The one I couldn't stop thinking about though was, "Why don't more people turn into weredragons?" It's mentioned that one time, and then never gets brought up again. Is it a special power that only certain people can use, or can anyone turn into a dragon monster? It seems to me that fighting giant wars would be easier if you had dragon monsters on your side. It just doesn't seem fair to introduce a power like that if you're not going to utilize it.
I couldn't put the book down towards the end. I'll definitely be checking out the rest of the series.