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Phoenix (The Complete Action Series)
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Blackbirds (Miriam Black, #1)

Blackbirds (Miriam Black, #1) - Chuck Wendig Sometimes on gray days when the breeze is warm the trees outside are filled with crows and they practically blacken the sky. Their cawing seems to drill right into your brain. It's kind of creepy, but beautiful in a way. My mom always says when that happens someone is going to die and she hates those crows. These memories came to me as I start to write this review.

Blackbirds is a creepy, exciting, funny, sad and sometimes even beautiful freight train to death. The plot grabs your nuts from beginning to end. Partly this is because of Wendig's particular talent for prose that is sharp, witty, coarse and surprisingly evocative. I see echoes of Lansdale in there. Also (and maybe more importantly) the nature of the story demands that you grab your oh shit handles and hold on for dear life because fate don't stop. Early on Miriam Black, the foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking boozehound who can read people's death through their touch, already knows the outcome of the tale. She can see it. It's fate. It's going to happen and you can't change it.

Or can you?

I can't bear to give any spoilers because it was this question that ran through my mind while reading it and kept me reading. I won't cheat you the pleasure of discovery.

Miriam Black, as a character, comes off as a tough-cookie. I can see how many readers might not grok her attitude because she's sarcastic, snide, nihilistic. But she's not really. She's scarred and the scars get deeper because she keeps picking at her wounds. She's lonely, scared and desperate. Normally, I wouldn't have cared much for her love-interest-type character, Louis, but I liked the big lug. He's exactly the kind of person Miriam needs and deserves. He's scarred too, but brimming with integrity. Among the badguys, Harriet and Frankie really took the cake for me. For some reason, I especially liked Frankie. He was like a fish out of water.

You know, I am finding it hard to write a review without giving away too much. The book really has to be read in its entirety to be appreciated.

But read it. I doubt you'll be disappointed. Bear in mind, the language is coarse, the violence is bone-splittingly brutal and the subject matter is disturbing, but I wouldn't expect anything less from the pantless bearded Wendigo.

Blackbirds is a fiver for me. Besides the story just being simply full of awesomeness, it felt, in some way, personal to me because of my own personal relationship with death. Some bits were hard to read and it sounds strange, but they weren't the violent bits. They were the bits when Miriam saw the deaths of normal people. Normal peeople, normal lives, normal deaths. It all seemed so profoundly sad to me and all too real. Makes you think. We're all going to die, so you better have something worth living for.

[I wanted to close with that, but I would be remiss if I did not add that there were numerous fomratting/editorial errors in the Kindle edition. I did not factor those into my review because they were irrelevant. But would still suggest that the publisher be a little more careful in the the formatting for borderline OCD-types like me.]