BOOK REVIEW: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

In the older traditions of the descendants of the Norse, Celtic, Germanic and many North American Indians, Blackbirds were often depicted as guides in the trials of life and often giving beneficial advice and knowledge.  But these birds also had their darker side, being associated with death or trickery.  They sometimes imparted to the recipient of the manner of their own death, and rarer still, the gift or curse of knowledge of others death.

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.

In Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, we follow the life and trials of Miriam, who has been given what she sees as this curse, the first time she touches someone’s skin, she learns the time and manner of their death and from their viewpoint, as if she were that person.  Miriam has learned that she cannot stop deaths approach, and any times she has tried, such as to save a child, her actions have only contributed to the series of actions that ultimately result in their demise.  So she wanders, unwilling to settle down and to live with all the death she sees, she spends most of her time drunk, to dull the pain she feels.

Unfortunately, Miriam keeps a diary.  She has convinced herself that when the book is finished, she will be too, even though she has no knowledge of her own death.  She makes her living from those she finds are going to die, alone and unwanted, robbing their corpses of just enough to keep her alive and moving to the next place, away from anyone she could grow to care about.  Then she meets a Louis, a decent man who quixotically saves her from unwanted attentions and learns that her in future she will meet him as he dies.  Although she runs away to prevent from him, she keeps running into him, and others who have gained access to her writings, and want to use her gift for their own nefarious plans.  To her horror, these plans include Louis’s death.  Can she save Louis?  Can she save herself?

I found this an excellent book.  Both earthy and pithy, Chuck Wendig explores the emotions and feelings of someone who has no control of their gift, but who desperately wants to escape both the curse and her life.

Rating: 4/5
Reporters: Whatotherway, Montoya

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