Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Miriam Black has a unique ability, one she would be just as happy without. Through skin-to-skin contact she can tell exactly when someone will die and in graphic detail, down to the day, hour, minute, and second.  She scavenges from the dead to fund her nomadic lifestyle, drifting from place to place, always on the fringe of society.  When a hitchhiking incident goes bad she meets Louis, a truck driver, who treats her with kindness and respect, something that she is certainly not used to.  She realizes that her situation turns even more hopeless when she touches Louis and sees that he will die in a gruesome way in 30 days while calling her name.

Blackbirds was one of the most brutal books I have read in some time.  The story is bleak and depressing, filled with piteous characters.  Miriam has been broken by her ability and pushes everyone away with venom and vitriol.  Miriam’s character is a cross between Final Destination and Neil Gaiman’s character Death, just not as nice.  She is foul mouthed and uncaring, again a product of her ability, but you can’t help but fall in love with her.  How did she develop this terrifying ability?  Will she ever be able to get rid of it?  Questions like these kept me plowing through the book.

The villains in this story are not people you can sympathize or relate with.  They are brutal and cruel, simple as that.  I can’t remember a “bad guy” that scared me as much as the one in Blackbirds.

Blackbirds is not for the feint of heart.  There is sex (and not of the intimate, romantic kind), brutal depictions of violence, and lots and lots of language, and I loved every minute of it.  Mr. Wendig takes all of these elements and weaves them into an unforgettable tale.  Miriam and company will stick with you long after you finish the book.  Blackbirds is urban fantasy at it’s gory and violent best, 5 bloody stars.

This is the first book that I have read by Chuck Wendig and was initially drawn to it by the cover.  The blackbirds flying apart speak volumes as to the destructive nature of Miriam  Black and those around her.

This review was of an eARC I received from Angry Robot books as a proud member of the Robot Army.

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