If you want the short version of this review, then here it is: I loved Blackbirds. I loved it as much as any other Urban Fantasy I’ve ever read, which, considering my almost inappropriate love of The Dresden Files is saying a lot.
I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC of Blackbirds almost a month ago and I’ve been thinking about the book ever since. In a lot of ways it defies an in depth review because a great deal of Blackbirds’ charm is in the many surprises that Wendig pulls on the reader as we follow Miriam Black as she swears, smokes and drinks her way across backwoods America.
Miriam’s talent is that she knows how you’re going to die…or at least she will if you so much as brush her hand. She knows the day, hour, minute and second of your demise and she knows it in graphic detail. She can’t do anything about the impending deaths, she’s tried, but Fate sticks to its plans no matter what she does and her attempts to save people end up with her being responsible for their deaths.
Did I mention this was quite dark?
Miriam has a secondary super power too: the ability to deliver snark at a rate previously only theorised by comedy scientists. There is no situation too awful for Miriam to punctuate it with snort inducing one liners.
Miriam is oddly likable, odd, in that she shouldn’t be likable at all since she’s not really a very nice person, but her situation is so terrible and her attempts to do the right thing so earnest that I couldn’t help but cheer for her as she takes on the book’s bad guys.
The bad guys deserve a special mention. Most book bad guys just don’t cut it. They either represent a threat so far out of the league of the protagonist that there really shouldn’t be much of a story, or they’re really no threat at all to the protagonist and should have been killed off during the first thirty seconds of story. Wendig’s bad guys walk the very fine line between being someone Miriam can fight (or at least flee) and being ridiculously over powered. This delivers some genuinely frightening antagonists especially the hairless, bone scrying meth dealer.
You would not want to wake up with that dude in your living room.
Wendig’s talent (as I may have mentioned before) is making violence and profanity into art, and as much fun as he’s having with this there is also genuine art in the way he’s strung the story together. We’re tantalized with the prospect of finding out how Miriam ended up the way she is and bits and pieces of her past are revealed even as she’s attempting to fight the future Fate seems to have laid out for her. Speaking of Fate I got the sense that Fate was a major antagonist in its own right and as much as the seriously bad dudes were on Miriam’s case Fate hung over her like a black cloud.
Full of violence, sex, drinking swearing and awesome Blackbirds is compulsory reading for anyone who loves urban fantasy, or even just a dman good book.
Despite being given an ARC I bought a physical copy of Blackbirds because this one I want on my shelf at home.
Buy two and give one to someone you like.