Author: Chuck Wendig
Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy/Horror
Series: Miriam Black (Book 1)
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
ISBN-10: 0857662309 (Angry Robot)
ISBN-13: 978-0857662309 (Angry Robot)
Reviewed by: Kristie
Miriam Black knows when you will die.
Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.
Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.
Quick & Dirty: Uber-violent and crude, a dark thrill ride that never stops. Beware, this novel is not for the faint of heart.
Opening Sentence: Car lights strobe through busted motel blinds.
Miriam Black lives her life on the road, stealing from the dead. Her ability to see the time and manner of someone’s death with just a touch allows her grim lifestyle. She doesn’t steal too much, just whatever cash they have on hand and a credit card that will help her get a hotel room to stay the night. Blackbirds begins with Miriam witnessing a death and when she goes hitchhiking at 1:30 in the morning, of course, bad things happen and she is rescued by a truck driver named Louis.
Miriam automatically thinks Louis is a serial killer but eventually they hit it off. As always, Miriam’s curiosity gets the better of her and she touches Louis. He is horrifically murdered in front of her eyes but before he dies he sees her. She is present at his death and it freaks her out so much she runs away from Louis, hoping never to see him again. Unfortunately, she runs right into a real crazy freak in Ashley. He wants to exploit Miriam and her abilities for profit.
Miriam is haunted by a vision of Louis as an animated dead body. He wants her to fight fate against his death and one thing Miriam has learned over time, it is to not chance fate, her visions always happen. Miriam runs into Louis again and Ashley wants to rob him at his time of death but as Miriam keeps trying to push Louis away she is drawn into Ashley’s mess. Now Miriam is hunted by someone far creepier than Louis’ bug infested talking dead body as she ponders fighting fate.
Miriam is not a totally sympathetic character. She is crass, crude and she loves to swear, drink and smoke. She often drinks to obliteration, so she can’t remember all the death she has seen. She always thinks the worst in someone whenever she meets them. Of course, in this world that pretty much holds true. She comes up with nicknames for people just by first appearance like Gray Pubes, Hairless and Fat Dude. Miriam says she used to wear gloves so she wouldn’t accidentally see deaths but now I’m pretty sure she intentionally touches people out of morbid fascination and for her next meal.
Blackbirds is not a happy-go-lucky, sunshine and rainbows world. It is saturated with dark and violent tones, often with over-descriptive deaths. Even though Miriam complains that most people die natural deaths in hospital beds with their family surrounding them, it seemed like everyone in this book died by some form of a really graphic death.
This novel really is non-stop. The story switches between Miriam’s current time and an Interlude with an interrogation that explains the “rules” to Miriam’s gift. Other views are introduced later on. With the short chapters and action, Blackbirds is a quick read, but it is a little heavy on the subject matter.
Overall, Blackbirds is a dark and graphic story. If you are a fan of horror, most likely you will like this book. Even though my stomach turned at times with the story, I got sucked into the action. Blackbirds is enjoyable in a dark and twisted way and I really don’t want to know what that means about myself that I liked this story. I definitely want to know what is next for poor Miriam in Mockingbird.
“Can we do it again?” he asks.
His face is sad, pleading. This is a lonely man, she thinks; he must be, he wants to spend time with her. But then there it is, a flash, a shadow over his face – a pair of gouged-out eye sockets, four strips of electrical tape, blood pouring, maggots crawling, rust flakes falling from a shitty fish-gutter knife. She shudders.
“I’m an awful person,” she declares. “I’m a hideous little nogoodnik. I have horrible thoughts. I do horrible things. I curse, I drink, I smoke. I basically have shit in my mouth and my head, and it always comes pouring out of me–” Like a stream of maggots, she thinks. “And you don’t need that. Louis, you’re a genuinely nice guy. A good person. You don’t want to be with me. You’ll just get covered in shit. My shit. My problems, my emotions, my everything. I am like a bucket of sewage turned over your head. Go find a nice girl. Someone in a sundress. Someone who isn’t so comfortable with the words ‘mother’, ‘cock’, ‘fucker’, and ‘sucker’.”
“No but. This is it. You’re sweet.”
The Miriam Black Series:
2. Mockingbird (August 28, 2012)
FTC Advisory: Angry Robot provided me with a copy of Blackbirds. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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