Review: Thunderbird by Chuck Wendig
Series: Miriam Black #4
Also by this author: The Cormorant
Published by Saga Press on February 28th 2017
Source: Publisher, Wunderkind
In the fourth installment of the Miriam Black series, Miriam heads to the southwest in search of another psychic who may be able to help her understand her curse, but instead finds a cult of domestic terrorists and the worst vision of death she’s had yet. Miriam Black is being developed as a TV series by Starz with the producers of Breaking Bad.
Miriam is becoming addicted to seeing her death visions, but she is also trying out something new: Hope. She is in search of another psychic who can help her with her curse, but finds a group of domestic terrorists in her deadliest vision to date.
Let me tell you, I was so excited to hear there was going to be another Miriam Black book. It’s been several years since the last one, but she has remained a favorite character for me. She has a wonderfully sardonic sense of humor that normally strikes a perfect balance of irreverence, humor and darkness. Miriam also has an unusual ability. Often when someone can do a thing others can not, you would call it a gift. For Miriam, though, that is debatable. When she makes contact with another person, shaking their hand, a touch on the shoulder, any skin to skin contact, she gets a vision of their death. What a way to make for everyone to make a first impression on her because not matter how you look at it, death is not pretty.
In this latest installment, Miriam is set to rid herself of her “gift”. (can you blame her?) She had heard about a psychic that could help her understand her gift/curse, and maybe even help her control or get rid of it. So, optimist that Miriam is (huh, yeah… OK, so maybe not an optimist, but she is determined), she hits the road with a friend to find this person. However, what she finds instead is a a group of terrorists. I have to be honest, these villains just did not have that same threatening/scary/horrifying aspect as what we had in the first few Miriam Black books. I mean, they are still villains, but I never got that same level of horrific apprehension or disturbance from them as I did with the first three books.
Unfortunately, I have to say that this new book just seemed slightly “off” from normal for me. I wish I could put my finger on exactly why it didn’t work as well as the others, but I am struggling a bit. I can say that Miriam’s signature attitude just didn’t sit as well with me this time as it did the others. I think there was something off on that balance I mentioned earlier, and that made certain aspects just feel a bit more forced. Perhaps the book merely fell victim to my mood, but I really do suspect that there was an upset to that critical balance. Also, this book is not as dark as the others, and that could definitely play a part and perhaps that is what upset the balance for me. Darkness is really a critical component of what I love in this series. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complete change of tone from the earlier books by any means, but it just felt like the more horrific qualities were toned down in this one. Miriam also seems to have lost some level of shock factor, which plays a part as well. It’s unfortunate because I was hoping to love this one as much as the first book, Blackbirds or third book, The Cormorant (I did have some with the second book as well).
I found the story over all was just not as exciting, and for some reason I seemed to miss Miriam’s sardonic humor that I have loved so much in the past. I won’t say it is not there at all, but I do feel like it missed the mark a number of times, making Miriam feel more like a petulant child than a sardonic, rebellious young woman. There are definitely still some moments and aspects of this book that are good, I just feel like it is a shadow of what a couple of the other books in this series have been. If you are a fan of the series, it is still worth checking out, hopefully you will have a more positive reaction than I did. For new readers, even if this book was amazing, I would still direct you to Blackbirds first. There are references in here that you will absolutely miss without knowing Miriam’s background. Would it still be readable without getting those? Yeah, probably. But since I feel like the earlier books are so good, I think you should start there and experience the entire series as written.