I’d posted a review of Chuck Wendig’s game changing book BLACKBIRDS back in March. Well I’m back with a review to the much anticipated follow-up MOCKINGBIRD.
Let’s start with the cover art – BOOM! So unlike everything else that’s out there with an ass-kicking leading lady (even mine for POLTERGEEKS and my cover rocks.). It’s my favorite female train wreck Miriam Black assembled together by a crap load of blackbirds and she’s got a switch blade not to mention “I don’t give two shits” look in her eyes. (Joey HiFi is the artist. This guy is unbelievably talented.)
Our story begins in a supermarket of all places. Dear Miriam has a job (one of many she’s burned through since last we saw her) and her day isn’t going terribly well. There’s a problem lady in line and she and Miriam just don’t see eye-to-eye. Things go south from there because Miriam catches a glimpse of her problem lady’s death (because that is what Miriam does. She touches you, sees your death. Hijinks ensue. Really. Bad. Hijinks.). BOOM! That lady is gonna die along in about three minutes from now and Miriam hasn’t a whole lot of time to respond. God love her though, she does. The gunman is in the checkout line and Miriam is going to once again mess with fate.
Her one-eyed love interest Louis is there. The pair live together in a crummy trailer. All is not well on the romantic front and really, how can it ever be? Miriam Black is the undisputed Queen of damaged goods. But Louis has a chance for her to make some easy coin – there’s a teacher at a girl’s school who wants to to know if she’s dying. No sooner does Miriam set foot on the institution property when she is thrown into a “kill the girls” murder spree waiting to happen. Heads are literally going to roll and Miriam is the only person who can save them – a tough job when you’re failing miserably at saving yourself.
I loved this book. I absolutely LOVED it because if BLACKBIRDS was a game changer for urban/dark fantasy then MOCKINGBIRD is the rule book. And guess what? There are no rules!
Wendig has this incredible ability to squeeze every drop of “fucked-upedness” out of every character he creates and leading the pack is Miriam Black. (That should be a slogan. God help us all if she ever runs for public office.) He’s taken pulp fiction and mixed it all up in a big bowl full of dark fantasy with a smattering of horror to boot. This book positively races along because Miriam has to move fast. And by God, you know you’ve hit rock bloody bottom if Miriam Black is saving your ass. The writing is first person here and now. The dialogue is punchy, tough, gripping and absolutely authentic. The background characters come to life though some of them you wish were never born and all through this grubby tale of danger and death we have a protagonist who you know is doomed in the grand scheme of things – it’s like watching Sons of Anarchy – you just know when that show wraps up, it is not going to end well for anyone.
Very simply, there is no book I can think of with a female lead that can touch either BLACKBIRDS or MOCKINGBIRD in its blood spraying, bone splintering, tooth chipping, nose breaking way. This book kicks the living shit out of you with every surprise turn. Its an opportunity for the reader to touch on some dark and seedy imagery that we drive past at fifty miles an hour and rarely ever want to see through the rear view mirror.
If BLACKBIRDS took you for a late night cruise down a dark and twisted road without the benefit of headlights, then MOCKINGBIRD is a big ass blinking warning sign that tells the reader the bridge is washed out and dammit, your brakes just failed.
Hell of a ride. Hell of a book. Don’t miss this one.