Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig (2015) – With the lightest touch of skin on skin, Miriam Black will know the where, when, and how of your death. She will know in gruesome, soul-searing detail. And there is nothing she can do to change the vision. Three men will discover her “gift”, two may be doorways to her destruction, but one might be something else.
Why I Liked It – Wendig is a superb storyteller, and spins a nightmare filled with wit, perseverance, and even a little humor.
One of my favorite times to read is just before I go to sleep. I’m talking curled up under the covers with my book resting on the edge of my pillow. This is not perhaps my best choice for the last images to lodge in my brain before said brain begins the nightly entertainment. Miriam Black lives in a grim world of both the images of death and death itself. She is a witness and a vulture. Life is both loathsome and inescapable. She also believes that life is fixed, an inevitable cascade of whatevers. “Fate gets what fate wants” is how she expresses it. This is a point of view with which I disagree utterly. Some readers may find that fundamental conflict of points of view an insurmountable obstacle. I enjoy the challenge of a story that begins with a conflict between story and reader. A good author will weave it into a fascinating pattern that demands the reader’s full immersion.
Chuck Wendig is a good author. A damn good one.
There’s little appealing about Miriam’s life. She’s taken the path of least resistance with the visions she gets. Her choice is to be neither the hero (although she makes a pass at it early on), nor the villain. The deaths are inevitable her experience tells her, so she uses them to keep her in food, shelter, cigarettes, and booze. It doesn’t make her especially pleasant as a human being, but there is an honesty to Miriam Black that makes us understand and side with her.
“Blackbirds” is the first of a six-book series centered on the character. The end of this one takes everything we “know”, sets it on its head, and gives the second book a new direction to follow.
I’m looking forward to the adventure.
Rating – **** Recommended