Miriam Black has an interesting talent. Whenever she touches a person's bare skin, she can tell when and how they die. On the run most of her life, she gets by hitchhiking and stealing. When a good Samaritan picks her up, she finds that he dies a few weeks later, saying her name as a knife goes through his eye and into his brain. Can Miriam beat fate and save the man's life? And how does Ashley, the grifter with the mysterious briefcase and the two FBI agents that are after him fit into everything?
So, yeah, I love Miriam Black. She's a foul-mouthed girl with a closet full of skeletons but I love her just the same. Imagine, being burdened with a "gift" like hers. Blackbirds brings her to life on the page and I could kick myself for not reading it as soon as it was published.
Blackbirds is the tale of one woman trying to beat fate, no matter what obstacle falls into her path. Miriam is far from the typical heroine. She's got a mouth like a sailor with Tourette's syndrome and is about as trustworthy as Mike Tyson at a beauty pageant at first glance. Her chance meetings with Louis and later Ashley set her already rocky life going up diarrhea drive on four bald tires.
Ingersoll, the baddie of the story, is obsessed with beating death and wants Miriam to help him. His flunkies, Harriet and Frankie, are ready to do whatever it takes to bring Miriam in. Although that's not how things get started.
I loved the way Wendig alternating between an interview with Miriam about herself and the tale as it unfolded. It was a good way to explain things without infodumps. It also sowed seeds for future stories down the line featuring Miriam's mother and other relatives.
Ordinarily, I'm not a huge fan of stories told in the present tense but I was so gripped by Blackbirds that I didn't notice the present tense until it was far too late to object. By that time, I was too invested in Miriam and the web of trouble she was entangled in to care.
That's about all I have to say. Blackbirds is the way urban fantasy is meant to be. Four out of five stars.