Review: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

This book will be released April 24th, 2012 from Angry Robot. It is the first in a new series from Chuck Wendig, the foul-mouthed penmonkey behind the website Terrible Minds.

The Blurb

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. 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. [Goodreads]

The Review

Blackbirds is a hauntingly macabre book. It was so intense that I read it in two nights, which I spread over three days. I had to take a night off in the middle just to recover from all the violence. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is ugly and vicious and cruel, actually, and that fingernail’s edge of hope that Wendig gives us may not be enough for some readers.

The prose is visceral and brutally beautiful. Miriam is a wonderfully flawed character who moves through her life like a tidal wave. Her path rains destruction down on everyone around her, but she is helpless to stop it. Imagine knowing that the people kindest to you in your life are destined to die horribly and the more you try to stop it, the more inevitable that death is. Now imagine living with that for a few years.

Miriam’s story is a disturbing and fascinating look at the fatal romance of inevitability and finality. In fact, “fatal” is the perfect word for Miriam. She’s caught in the twin grips of fate and death. No. Not death, but dying. That’s an important distinction. Miriam’s “gift”  is not concerned with what comes after life, but only with those final, horrifying moments of leaving it. 

Wendig does dark and brutal very, very well. His Atlanta Burns novella, Shotgun Gravy was similar in tone. I now find myself perversely wishing that I could read a light-hearted Wendig story, just for contrast sake.

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