Book Review: Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig
I can’t get enough of Miriam Black. I just can’t. I thought the initial delight of discovering this twisted and refreshingly candid series would have worn off a bit by now, but it hasn’t. If anything, I think I’m finally starting to sense of who Miriam is and the direction in which these books are going. Or that might just be wishful thinking. Regardless, I’m still having a blast.
Some time has passed since we last left Miriam and Louis in Blackbirds (book one of the series, my review here). For the sake of their relationship, Miriam has attempted to settle down, living in a double-wide trailer and working as a check-out girl at a local grocery store. No more drifting around the country, and no more utilizing her morbid ability to see and how and when someone is going to die simply by making skin-on-skin contact with them. For Miriam, it means a new life filled with lots of tedium, grin-and-bear-it moments, and constantly wearing gloves.
But a girl can only take so much. Fed up, Miriam packs up and gets ready to hit the road when Louis tells her about Katey, a contact of his who is convinced she is dying and wants to pay Miriam to confirm her suspicions. Eager to be herself again, Miriam readily accepts the job, which is how she finds herself dropped off at a prestigious boarding school for troubled girls where Katey is employed as a teacher. Very soon, Miriam finds herself caught up in much more than she bargained for, when she encounters Lauren, a student at the school whom Miriam’s death visions tell her will die brutally at the hands of a crazed serial killer.
With Mockingbird, I think I feel a little more confident in describing the Miriam Black books as less of a traditional Urban Fantasy series, and more of a Thriller-Suspense with paranormal elements. Given the dark nature of Miriam’s power, I would throw in a bit of horror, too. There are some intensely graphic and frightening scenes in this book worthy of the goriest slasher flicks, and if you’re anything like me, at certain points while reading you’ll likely find yourself squirming in your seat in an uncomfortable-yet-not-too-entirely-unpleasant kind of way.
Though, that’s sort of what I’ve come to expect with Chuck Wendig. His writing and stories can make you desperately want to turn the page and be scared to do so at the same time. His characters and dialogue can induce me to laugh my ass off yet at once make me feel like a terrible person. And I love every minute of it. Why do people go and watch scary movies anyway? On a certain level, we do it for the express purpose of being terrified out of our wits. Similarly, that was why I was so eager to pick up this second installment of Miriam Black — I wanted what I got out of Blackbirds the first time around, to again be shocked, scandalized and enthralled by Wendig’s particular brand of dark humor and suspense. I was not disappointed.
Mockingbird also gave us a better look at who Miriam is as a person. I mentioned in my review of the first book that I know deep down beneath that snarky rough exterior she is good person with a good heart, and here I think we see that a little more in her determination to help the schoolgirls and her refusal to simply walk away from the situation. The origins of her mysterious power are still largely unexplained, but we do get a bit of that too. The best part, though, is this book provided a lot of insight into Miriam’s past, like her childhood and her relationship with her mother, which gave me a better idea of how she became the way she is.
Overall, a very suspenseful and chilling novel which I could barely put down. As a special treat, I bought the Whispersync Kindle/Audible bundle so I was able to listen to parts of this in audiobook format too. The narrator Emily Beresford is fantastic as Miriam Black, her talent coming through especially when she sings the “Mockingbird” song, the serial killer’s rendition of the folk song “Wicked Polly”. The song earwormed itself into my head for days, which I have to say made the book even more memorable and creepy.