Sometimes Knowledge Is Power, a lot of times it just leaves you helpless to your fate.
Little stories, that’s what we are all really. Little stories set in a very big world with very big things going on beyond our reach. We each play a minor role in the lives of so many people and act as background pieces to the bulk of humanity. Despite this we all have our story. Our birth, our life, and inevitably our death; We don’t know how it will be for most of the people out there, but in the back our heads we know everyone we know someday will die. We don’t get to know the truth of those moments, only that someone has passed. We hear about the heart attacks, the strokes, the cancers, the car accidents, the murders, and the suicides. But we don’t get to really know, at least not beyond our own personal crash landing. Miriam does. She’s like a voyeur into those intimate moments when the mortal coil unwinds and whatever happens next leaves our bodies as little more than bags of decaying meat. Magic, psychic, something else, we don’t get to know through our first introduction to the spiral of Miriam’s life, but hints are there between the pages and the words of a shade in Miriam’s ear.
Blackbirds takes us into a part of Miriam’s life where she’s in a cycle of using, abusing, and taking pieces of the prizes left behind by the dead. Things twist for her when a stalker wants to take advantage of her powers and another man wants to help save her, or at least save himself through her. The events that follow trace lines of fate, control, and bloody murder across the eastern coast. Things don’t play out exactly as expected but the ending comes to a violent, brutal, and satisfying ‘happy’ ending.
For me, the take away from Blackbirds is understanding overt and subtle events and wielding them properly. Chuck Wendig does a great job with this especially handling Miriam’s gift/curse and the events of the some crime organization Miriam’s stalker manages to piss off. Miriam’s power can be potentially distracting is over used, but it’s laced through the story at the right times, places, and events to slide things along without drowning the story. Enough hints of the supernatural are given that we can see the truth of the world out there is turned sideways from what we believe. Flipping this to the actions of Harriet and Frankie, we see just how to wield overt events like a club and drag us deeper into the story. Harriet defines being a catalyst for change, and while the actions of Miriam and Ashley are shifts here and there, Harriet is always bringing her partner and herself back and forth in a wave of violence and death.
I would recommend Blackbirds to people who like a little crime fiction mixed with those who like a little urban fantasy. Blackbirds never gets all magical with spells flying, demons hunting people down, or vampire and werewolves having blood duels and make out sessions. Instead it laces its supernatural into an already brutal world, and exploits both sides of the coin to a profitable end. The main character can be frustrating but she makes reasonable choices for herself and comes across as an intelligent and strong figure. Supporting characters are believable people, with their own wants and wishes extended out beyond that of Miriam, and it doesn’t feel like we’re just being dragged around in a world built just for her. This story is the first Chuck Wendig piece I’ve read and it has made me a fan already. I’m looking forward to the upcoming sequel Mockingbird later this year.