Genre: Urban Fantasy/Crime
*This is coming out in April. You can pre-order this bad boy here*
Mark my words. Miriam Black is going to make Chuck Wendig a very wealthy man. BLACKBIRDS is a high-octane, action packed novel that will leave in a pitiful state to work, after a night of frenzied reading. It is one of the most well-plotted and well-paced novels I have read and I read an industrial number of novels every year. What Wendig understands that most novelists don’t is that pacing and plotting are intimately linked. So whenever there’s a high action scene, it’s not just a bunch of actions crammed together, but it’s delivered with great atmosphere and precise detail that makes the scene memorable. There are many plot twists to BLACKBIRDS who will make you stand up and yell “OH MY FUCKING GOOOOOOD. NO WAY” but they are strategically placed in the story, so you never know when you’ll be slapped across the face. Keeps a reader tense, believe me. All in all, it’s a crazy story I could very well see on film in the next few years.
“No,” she seethes, “I look like I do heroin - and I don’t do that either. I have all my teeth and I don’t smell like cat piss, so don’t think I’m some basehead tweaker fuckface.”
I have a lot of things to say about this, don’t I? I can’t close this review without slipping a word about the themes in BLACKBIRDS. I know I’m discussing the technical merit of this novel a lot, but technique is nothing without a sense of purpose. It’s one thing to have a plot like a chessboard, but it’s the thinking behind the moving pieces that make the game great. While remaining classic in its form, doesn’t give into the good vs evil duality that’s often used in supernatural, you have something a lot less obvious and a lot deeper. Downtrodden loser versus fate. Loser versus luck. It seems evident said like that, but someone who loses a lot defines himself by his very lack of luck (and Miriam IS one unlucky girl). Having to challenge fate is not only immaterial, but it’s a fight against yourself. Very interesting dynamic behind the discourse of BLACKBIRDS. It's also rather new, in this particular genre.
I might be wrong, but knowing Chuck Wendig has experience in tabletop roleplaying games and in their design, I thought it showed. Having experience as a game master myself, I thought the plot of BLACKBIRDS had this nutty quality of a RPG where you have to be wild, interesting and coherent, episode after episode. I think that’s the moving power behind this terrific story. Read it if you like supernatural stories. Read it if you DON’T like supernatural stories (yeah, I know. I just said that). Read it if you like good novels because BLACKBIRDS is a great one.