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Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

Mockingbird by Chuck WendigPublisher: Angry Robot
Paperback (384pp)

Chuck Wendig takes all the outstanding elements from Blackbirds, the first novel to feature Miriam Black, and dials them up to eleven for Mockingbird. Once again the pacing, pitch black humour and whip-sharp dialogue are a joyous treat that have you simultaneously desperate to read more and reluctant to devour the book too quick.

As the story opens we find Miriam has, oh the horror, got a proper regular job! Not to worry though, this being Miriam it doesn’t take long for her abrasive nature to put her on the wrong side of her superiors and once more hitting the highway as the free spirit we fell in love with in the first book.

Events really ratchet up, though, when in the course of helping a friend of a friend Miriam accidentally touches a student of an all-girl school and experiences a vision of her being tortured to death. After the events of Blackbirds, Miriam is still trying to figure out the rules and limitations of her ‘gift’ and this most recent vision gives her just the opportunity she has been looking for to explore how much she can affect the ordained outcome as seen in her promotions.

The collection of bad guys this time are not as strongly realised as in the first story and on reflection the book wouldn’t lose anything if a couple of them were to be cut out all together. The main antagonist’s display of a similar ability to Miriam is maddeningly under-explained but does raise the enticing possibility of Miriam encountering more gifted people as she goes on.

That niggle aside, there is much to recommend here. In particular the banter between Miriam and Wren, the young girl she’s trying to save, in which Miriam gets to discover how it feels for the people on the receiving end of her acerbic outbursts. The visions, whilst still fun in their variety, seem more purposeful this time around and are used more sparingly to the benefit of other elements of the narrative. There is also an emotional aspect to the conclusion that adds yet another dimension to the story.

Mockingbird raises rather more questions than it answers but given that further volumes have been announced it is easy to concede that the author has this aspect in mind and will be feeding it to the reader piecemeal as the story continues, and much like Miriam herself we will be learning as we move along. And when the journey is this much fun, what’s the rush?

ROSS WARREN

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