Chuck Wendig – Mockingbird

Miriam is trying to keep her ability – her curse – in check.

But when Miriam touches a woman in line at the supermarket, she sees that the woman will be killed here, now.

She reacts, and begins a new chapter in her life – one which can never be expected to go well.

Earlier this year I read, reviewed and loved Chuck Wendig’s first Miriam Black novel, Blackbirds. Even though it took me a bit, I fell in love with his caustic, sharp and foul-mouthed protagonist, Miriam. Combined with a fascinating premise, a psychic who only foresees the manner and moment of a person’s death, and an edge-of-your-seat suspense, she blew all my reservations about Blackbirds away and I was really looking forward to reading Mockingbird; an anticipation which turned out to be justified, as Mockingbird was even better than Blackbirds. A word of warning: Mockingbird is the second in a series and talking about it will automatically give spoilers for Blackbirds, or rather one big spoiler. If you want to remain unspoiled for Blackbirds, now is the time to click away!

When we reunite with Miriam, she seems to have taken both a step back and a step forward in trying to lead a normal life. One of the things I loved about Miriam in Blackbirds is that she’s stopped running away from her gift, she’s even turned into the way she makes a living, even if it means a life adrift. In that sense she’s taken a step backwards, she gone from using and acknowledging her gift, to hiding and denying it. Where she has taken a step forward is in the settling down and making an emotional connection to Louis. Settling down isn’t going smoothly and the road still calls her name, but she’s making an effort. Of course, this sort of peaceful existence can’t last, we all saw that coming, so we rejoin her story on the day she snaps and walks out. Instead of going backwards or forwards, she’s taking a step sideways in her development. She goes back to using her gift, finally soothing the almost withdrawal-like itch she’s had, but the cracks Louis has made in her walls aren’t as easily cemented closed again. In the first book Miriam’s motto seemed to be ‘It is what it is’, in Mockingbird she develops into ‘I am who I am’, with all that entails. And I loved to see this growth.

Wendig shows us more of Miriam’s unhappy past and the demons she still deals with on a daily basis, which go a long way to creating more understanding and sympathy for Miriam’s idiosyncrasies and her unapologetic inability to from a bond with other people. However, Louis has managed to crack her walls a tiny bit and throughout Mockingbird we get glimpses of a less misanthropic Miriam, who is drawn to helping people despite herself. This slow thaw of Miriam’s defences also seems to make it easier to connect with secondary characters. Where I felt emotionally distant from many of the characters in Blackbirds, in Mockingbird there are far more people to care about, such as Louis and Katey and to a certain extent Wren. How much of this is actually due Miriam’s changing outlook on life or whether it’s more a case of increased familiarity with Wendig’s remains to be seen. It would be interesting to see how this develops in further books.

While we learn a little bit more about the onset of Miriam’s gift and its workings, it also gets a little weirder with the addition of Trespasser. The source of her visions becomes more and more ambiguous and it also gives an entire new dimension to the use of her gift. I loved this shift in the use of her gift though, I thought it made for a good set up for further entries in this series, in the sense that it creates the possibility of more serialised mysteries to solve with an overarching storyline worked in, much like many crime series do. And you have to hand it to Wendig, he writes a mean mystery. Mockingbird‘s central mystery is fantastic. I really and truly hadn’t seen the twist to the story coming and I adored it. In addition to being unexpectedly twisty, it is also completely creepy and shudder-inducing. I’ve read and watched plenty of crime and mystery series, but this was one of the creepier whodunits I’ve read in a long time.

Mockingbird was a fantastic book; all the reservations I had regarding Blackbirds were absent or improved on in Mockingbird. Wendig is proving to be a must-read urban fantasy author and I can’t wait for his next book, the first in a new series, next June. I also deeply hope we’ll get to see more of Miriam and discover where she’ll drift next and what her gift will ask of her. If you haven’t yet given Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series a try, you’re missing out. Mockingbird, like Blackbirds, isn’t for the easily offended or weirded out and definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you like your urban fantasy dark, brutal and unforgiving then you shouldn’t miss reading Miriam Black’s adventures.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.

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