Audiobook Review: The Raptor & The Wren by Chuck Wendig
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 5 of Miriam Black
Publisher: Audible Studios (July 3, 2018)
Length: 6 hrs and 54 mins
Narrator: Emily Beresford
The Raptor and The Wren is the fifth book in the Miriam Black series, in which our eponymous protagonist returns to her roots. But instead of living like a vagrant, hopping from city to city trailing people that she knows will soon die in order rob them at their time of their deaths, Miriam is now living in Florida, in a house that used to belong to her mother, and she has taken her scam to the next level. With no shortage of death in retirement mecca, where folks expire naturally from old age or health conditions all the time, the world is her oyster. No one will miss a little breaking and entering, or a few missing valuables or bottles of prescription drugs. To some extent, Miriam has accepted her dark powers, and there’s no sense in letting a good opportunity go to waste.
And yet, a lot of things still bother her. With just a touch, Miriam can see how someone will die, and this is how she knows that her good friend Louis, whom she still loves, will murder his fiancée in just a few months’ time. The mistakes of her past have also come back to haunt her, inspiring the actions of a new copy-cat killer. Those who have the misfortune of being caught up in Miriam’s trail of destruction often end up damaged and broken, even if they manage to survive, as Lauren AKA Wren can attest. The girl we first met in Mockingbird is now a teen, struggling with her own dark side. In order to save Wren, Miriam must confront her own demons, right the wrongs of her past, and continue her journey to understand the origin of her powers.
While I still love Miriam to bits, I can’t help but feel that the series has lost some of its edge since Thunderbird. In my review of the previous book, I noted how the plot developments and characters failed to impact me as strongly, and the series as a whole has become…well, more pedestrian. Likewise, The Raptor and The Wren continues this trend, recycling old plot points and limiting the story’s potential. It probably didn’t help that this book was mostly filler. It was a fast read, but after finishing it, I was left with a nagging feeling that not a lot happened, and that none of the newer, more interesting conflicts introduced here ended up being resolved. In other words, it felt like the entire purpose of this book was to be the setup for the next one, which I believe will be the last book of the series.
Thank goodness for Miriam. She is the one bright spot in this general state of stagnation, because of the way she has grown with each book. It can’t be denied, Miriam Black has come a long way since Blackbirds, despite certain aspects of her life coming full circle. She has wrestled with the horrific nature of her powers, emerging stronger if not victorious. She has forged new relationships, learned to care about people other than herself. Some of Louis’ goodness has also rubbed off on her, teaching her the value of responsibility and the power to shape her own life through her own actions. The days of running away and never looking back are over; this new Miriam tackles her problems head on, even when the fear threatens to overwhelm. Rest assured though, all the things that have made her character so entertaining and addictive to read about have been left intact. Miriam is still the undisputed queen of the potty mouth and dirty metaphors, and we should all cherish her for it.
All in all, The Raptor and The Wren was fun to read, even though it was short and most of the plot was bridging and biding time for the final installment. The ending was pretty shocking though, I won’t lie. Poor Miriam never seems to catch a break. I’m still sitting here, thinking “Please don’t let me to be so!” but as with all of Chuck Wendig’s books, you never know what will happen next. Despite this one being an overall lackluster sequel, at least compared the earlier volumes in this series (which, in my opinion, ranks as some of the author’s best work), I’m waiting on pins and needles for finale. If the foundations built here are any indication, Vultures promises to bring an epic conclusion.
Audiobook Comments: I took a break from the audiobooks in this series after Mockingbird, but I was glad to pick this up again and see that Emily Beresford is still the voice behind Miriam Black. I’ve always felt there is a quality to her voice that makes her the perfectly suited for the main character, a certain sharpness that brings out Miriam’s devil-may-care ways and sass. I’m glad that hasn’t changed. It was a joy coming back to her superb narration.