Short Summary: Miriam Black is back and set to see once and for all who’s the bitch-her or fate. Busy yet again ruining anything good in her life, she gets offered a hefty chunk of change to tell one man in the Florida Keys how he dies. It’s a questionable situation from the get-go but a few thousand dollars is a few thousand dollars. What Miriam sees waiting in store for the man, however, is enough to freak even her out and send her running; it’s not too often a stranger’s death holds a message just for her. Once more, inexplicably, the fates of others are intertwined in hers, in ways Miriam must unravel before it’s too late-too late for strangers, and too late for loved ones. But with higher powers guiding every move of her enemy, keeping them one, two, three steps ahead of Miriam, does she even stand a chance of stilling the hand of fate before it strikes what may be its cruelest blow yet?
First, let me get this out of the way-SQUEE ANOTHER MIRIAM BLACK NOVEL YAY! Okay, so I may be a little biased. Miriam is my favorite 80 proof lady, and The Cormorant did not disappoint. Walking into the third book in the series, you might wonder where the story can go from the first two. Okay, she can see how you’ll die. Okay, she can bargain with Fate, trading lives for lives. What else could their be?
The answer is ALL THE THINGS MORE. One thing I think Wendig has excelled at in this series is playing his cards Very. Slowly. At no one point has he revealed the full truth of the Miriam Black universe, and this third book drops a couple more pieces of the puzzle, just enough to satisfy the reader yet leave you with more questions about what’s happening before. The answers are coming but the clues are hard to pin down; I love how the Trespasser drops hints and threats in broad, ambiguous ways without ever committing to meaning anything. It’s aggravating and at the same time, exhilarating, like never seeing the monster in a monster movie; sometimes, just knowing there is a monster out to get you is enough.
As far as story goes, I was dubious at first. I had a hard time seeing where it was heading and when the true plot was supposed to begin. I understand the necessity of the beginning, what it explains, even if it just feels like flavor. There is a defining point, however, when the story starts. Really starts. Wendig entertains you in the beginning, for sure, but a certain event grabs you by the short and curlies and yanks you full-bore into the story. From that point on, I was hooked. Every encounter Miriam had, every death she saw, built the tension for me. Approaching the end, I had no idea how it would resolve.
In fact, at one point, I was sure the worst would happen but IT WASN’T WHAT I THOUGHT AND YOU CAN’T JUST PLAY WITH PEOPLE’S EMOTIONS LIKE THAT, CHUCK, GOD DAMMIT. Ahem. Sorry.
Anyway, the villain is awesome. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was happy to see a familiar face. Well, relatively happy, since the character is a total jerk-face poopy-head (sorry, Amazon won’t let me cuss). Plus, where as Miriam was matched in power in Mockingbird, she is straight-up out-classed in Cormorant, as well as everybody else. The antagonist’s…I hesitate to call it their “power” but that’s the best word for it…is both awesome and terrifying, and again raises the question of what other worldly being(s), exactly, Miriam has pissed off by toying with fate.
Wendig’s writing, as usual, is inordinately exquisite throughout this book. The master of the metaphor, Chuck paints scenes you can feel, a veritable Bob Ross on an LSD-laced speed binge. Characters pop out of the page, each voice unique to its owner, each owner colorful, meaningful, and truly existing in the world beyond the purpose they serve to the story. The way Chuck writes, you feel their pain, their sweat, their sex and their hangover. And I’ll never understand how he managed to make Miriam Black-a murderer, a thief, an asshole, and $20 stolen dollars away from a hobo-mean so much to me. I think we love Miriam because he’s made us understand her pain.
All in all, I loved it. I stayed riveted throughout, and we meet a few more characters that I need to, want to, absolutely must see again. This story tugged at my emotions more than Mockingbird managed to, to the point where I’m a little mad at Wendig for giving us hope and relief before cruelly yanking it away again.
Really, my only disappointment is how fast I read the book. I waited how long to get this before tearing through it in a few hours? Sigh. It’s going to be a long 2014.