Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig. Book review

MOCKINGBIRD by Chuck Wendig, Angry Robot, p/b £7.99, ebook £5.49, http://www.angryrobottradingcompany.com/

Reviewed by Glen Mehn

I got all excited when I saw this pop in to the reviewer’s queue. I’d read – perhaps devoured is a more appropriate word –  ‘Blackbirds’ a couple of months ago, and enjoyed it. Grit. Horror. Laugh-out-loud dark humour.

It did not disappoint.

For those of you new to this game, go read ‘Blackbirds’ first. While it’s not absolutely necessary, it’s worth the read.

Miriam Black knows when you will die, if she touches you. This is a mixed blessing, at best, and when combined with her difficult upbringing leads Miriam to live a vagabond’s life on the road. Without getting too spoilery, ‘Blackbirds’ ends with Miriam attempting to settle down.

‘Mockingbird’ starts off by letting us know it didn’t work.

‘Mockingbird’ starts off on page 1 with Wendig doing what he does best: drawing the reader into the life of Miriam Black, and a typical situation for her, involving her angry, clever wit and demonstrating Wendig’s mastery of words.

That’s when the first killer turns up, and we’re drawn into 384 pages of non-stop action, plot, and more of Miriam’s defensive mouth.

There’s a particularly inventive killer, and some especially vulnerable girls in danger, and Wendig grabs you by the face and drags you through those 384 pages, with the pacing of a craftsman – setting up interesting questions and cliffhangers and then stepping aside for an interlude.

It is a fun, playful ride and a bloody good book.

It’s not perfect. I found it troubling at times – there are some places where the continuity falls apart, and some “I’m not quite sure I buy it” words coming from Miriam’s mouth – she revels in her lack of education though betrays this by showing herself to be smarter than she lets on. The biggest issue that I had with this book is that, although there are more revelations about Miriam, we don’t get to see her as a human being grow as much as we find out about her powers and her place in the universe.

All of these are fairly minor niggles, though – all in all, this book delivers on the promises Wendig has laid down with ‘Blackbirds’ and other earlier work.