First up, a confession. I know Chuck. Not know him like, hey, we hang out and drink beers, but we chat on Twitter as much as he feels like answering me. I love his blog. I find him to be an inspiration when I’m down and out on my own writing–which is often.
So, it was with trepidation that I started his new novel BLACKBIRDS. Why trepidation? Because I’m always nervous when I start a friend’s book. I want to love them so bad, that I often raise my expectations too high.
The good news is BLACKBIRDS lives up to everyone of my expectations. It stars Miriam Black, a woman who–if she touches you skin to skin–can see how you’re going to die. Like, she flashes to it, knows the time, knows the cause, witnesses it. She’s used to this, by now–sort of. And now she kind of wanders America, dealing with her power–her curse.
And then she touches Louis, a truck driver. And what she sees stuns her. It’s not that he’s going to die. And it’s not even how gruesome his death is. It’s that, when he dies, he says her name.
To say anymore would spoil the novel.
And believe me, you don’t want this one spoiled for you.
Miriam drives this novel. She’s a complex, deep, and very sympathetic character. At the same time, she’s a badass, and she’s going to drag you along for this hell of a ride. You can’t stop reading, because you NEED to know what happens to her.
The most compelling chapters–for me–were the interludes, where Miriam is interviewed by a young journalist and starts to reveal the secrets of her power. It got to the point where I’d curse at the end of each interlude, because I know I was going to have to keep reading that night to get to the next one.
Chuck asked me, very early on in the process to pick out a beer for Miriam. The choices are easy (well, not so easy, it took me a while to come up with them, honestly). Rogue Dead Guy Ale or Left Hand Fade to Black are the beers to sip while reading this.
But as soon as you start, you’ll forget the beer and just be caught up in the pages.