Series: MIRIAM BLACK
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF) with a hefty dose of horror
Ratings: Violence—5; Sensuality—3; Humor—3-4
Publisher and Titles: Angry Robot
Blackbirds (novel 1—4/2012)
Mockingbird (novel 2—8/2012)
The Cormorant (novel 3—1/2014)
"Interlude: Swallow" (novella in Three Slices—5/2015)
BOOK 2: Mockingbird
This story is much less effective than the previous one. The plot follows a Horror 101 path, with sociopathic, one-dimensional villains who are easy to spot early on. The relationship between Miriam and Louis is difficult to understand. Louis is supposed to be a long-distance trucker—on the road several weeks out of every month, but he somehow manages always to be there just in the nick of time to save Miriam's life. He seems to care for her (and vice versa) but they rarely have much of consequence to say to one another. I have to say that I'm disappointed in this second book, particularly after the great character building and compelling action of book 1. If you like reading standard horror fiction, though, you might enjoy this one.
NOVEL 3: The Cormorant
The rest of the book moves back and forth in time as Miriam tells her tale, interrupted repeatedly by comments from her captors and flashback scenes from her Carrie-like childhood. All the way through, Miriam's Trespassers—specters from her past—keep appearing by her side, unseen by anyone by herself. These are, for the most part, dead people from her recent past, who ask her uncomfortable questions, castigate her about her past actions, and offer enigmatic advice about what she should do next.
The story is divided into five geographically related chapters:
I love Wendig's raw and bitter descriptions of Miriam. In an early scene in Philadelphia, Miriam "comes through the door like a black storm, like a funnel cloud sucking up everything it touches." (p. 31) Again in Philly, "Sun starts to dip around five in the afternoon. The tourist crowd thins as the bar crowd and folks going to see a show…start pouring in. Miriam, she stands there on a street corner—the smells of cheesesteaks, cigarettes, and anger washing over her. While standing, she holds up a sign: WILL PSYCHIC FOR FOOD. Ten bucks gets someone a vision" (p. 43) In this Florida scene, she pushes a motel owner too far: "And here she sees she's reached Jerry's discomfort point. It happens eventually. Rare is the other human who doesn't mind being dragged over the deepening lines of impropriety while talking to Miriam Black. With her, every conversation is a landmine. Eventually: boom." (p. 227)
After the savage and bloodthirsty ending that resolves Miriam's most frightening conflict, the stage is set for the fourth novel, which will feature a road trip to yet another part of the country. Apparently, Miriam will have a partner (maybe two) for that trip, which may or may not be a good thing. Sometimes I think that Miriam is more dynamic and fascinating when she is on her own, dealing with the ghosts from her past and making her own, often disastrous but always intriguing, decisions.
This is a terrific novel that is definitely right up there in breath-holding, page-turning quality with Blackbirds. Miriam tells her story in her usual profane, sarcastic manner, and she meets up with a series of quirky supporting characters who connect with her on a visceral level, some positive and some negative. As the story flashes back and forth in time, more and more of the blank spots in Miriam's character development are filled in, particularly in regard to her relationship with her mother. I recommend that you read the first two novels before reading this one because the plot relies heavily on events from previous books, particularly book 1.