Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig - review

Excerpt from Criminal Element
Urban Fantasy

*****  (5 out of 6 stars)

cover - I love this cover.  It's stark and creepy.  Just right.
Blackbirds was a creepy book.  Good creepy.  Parts of it were horrifically creepy.  Some of it was horrific.  All of it was well written.  Kept my interest through the entire book, with no "down" time; there wasn't one place where I felt bored or even the beginnings of boredom. 
Miriam Black is the main character, and she has this horrible ability to see the moment of a person's death.  This happens when she just touches a person, and it doesn't matter if she wants to see or not, she's going to see it.  She sees the moment of death and just knows what exactly it is that a person is dying from- whether it's a stroke, heart attack, gunshot or just plain old age.

Possibly because of this, possibly because she did not have the best childhood possible (this comes out in small bits and pieces through the book) she's disconnected from people, has this very hard outer shell and basically has no real social skills.  Miriam is kind of floating through life, using her ability to get herself here and there, fed and surviving when she comes across the one person that she can't get out of her mind....Luis.  Miriam is disturbed at what happens in Luis's death vision; Miriam hasn't been disturbed by a seeing for a very long time.

She also comes across and becomes hooked up with this young man who brings his own set of problems, and who actually pulls her into a very dangerous situation...
Blackbirds is an intricately plotted book - not for the feint of heart or stomache. But I just wanted to keep reading to see what was going to happen.  I didn't much like Miriam as a person - but that's not a requirement for me to enjoy a novel.  A good storyteller will make you hate or love characters and Wendig is a good storyteller.

The narration was good, great - really.  The dialogue and way of speech fit the characters.  There were a few characters that were so down and dirty, in a sociopath kind a way, that I found them to be very interesting.  Miriam and one of the women characters didn't read much to me like a woman, but then they weren't your average woman either.  Both of them had gone through and done some pretty intense things.  The story was told, there were twists and glimpses into Miriam's past as well as a few other of the characters.  The story was put together very well.

If you like your characters twisted, if you enjoy a good urban fantasy read that is very close to a horror book, then you will enjoy Blackbirds.  Chuck Wendig does not baby his characters, so if you have a hard time reading horror like actions or women with attitudes or behaviours that do not reflect society's image of the perfect woman, you might not like this novel.  I enjoyed it - regardless of how I felt about Miriam, the novel was intensely interesting and had some insights into all the differing personalities that are the people of the world.  


I see that Chuck Wendig has written a sequel to Miriam's story and I'm most likely going to pick it up when it comes out.  The sequel is Mockingbird and is due out August 28, 2012.  I also see that Wendig has written many other novels (and screenplays), AND does photography!  Blackbird is the first novel I've read written by him.

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