Review: “The Cormorant,” Chuck Wendig

Pros: A fascinating bloody mess!
Rating: 5 out of 5

Chuck Wendig’s The Cormorant (3) (Miriam Black) is book three after Blackbirds and Mockingbird. In book one, we discovered that Miriam Black has an unusual power: the first time she touches someone skin-to-skin, she sees how and when they’ll die. She’d become a scavenger–she waited for people to die and took their money to live off of. She met up with conman Ashley and trucker Louis and figured out how to finally cheat fate–by trading one life for another. In book two, Miriam had to stop a serial killer stalking schoolgirls. It turned out to be another psychic, someone culling girls who would “poison” the lives of others. They believed they were doing something similar to what Miriam does, and wanted her help. She, of course, disagreed. Now Miriam finds herself in the hands of the FBI, agents Grosky and Vills from the BAU, who seem to think she might be a serial killer. She starts to relate her story of what’s been going on, and chapter by chapter we find out that an old friend is now stalking Miriam, killing people she’s touched and leaving her messages in her visions of their deaths. He’s gained some power of his own, and seems to outwit Miriam at every turn. She realizes that he’s going to kill her mother, and even though she isn’t fond of her mother, she’ll do everything she can to save her.

Miriam has been experimenting with saving lives, but it isn’t as profitable and doesn’t always end well. It also requires her to kill. It’s interesting to watch her try to come to terms with when and how she should interfere with fate. The Trespasser is still coming to her, and it isn’t thrilled with her little experiment. It apparently doesn’t want her to interfere in all of the murders and violent deaths she sees. She’s learning that situations can have nuance. She also experiments with living with roommates, which similarly doesn’t go entirely well. She has yet to find a decent way to live with what she is.

Miriam turns out to be bisexual in this volume, and I like that. It isn’t made a big deal of; she just spends the night with Gabby, a woman she meets in a bar, and their relationship is one more target for Miriam’s stalker. I think my favorite part of this volume is watching the ways in which Miriam’s stalker is manipulating her, because he knows how to use her powers against her in this way. Wendig is really building up a fascinating world where it comes to psychics.

Miriam also enters the sights of a drug dealer, Tap-Tap, who has been told that she stole his cocaine shipment. When he finds out she hasn’t, he makes it her responsibility to find out who did and bring them to him. Miriam is kept limping around Florida half-crazed not always even aware of what she’s chasing. I’m curious to see what the next book will bring!

Content note: animal harm, torture and violence, and also Miriam can be offensive sometimes. (I don’t get the impression from reading this that we’re meant to condone this, or that the author does–it’s just that Miriam’s a work in progress as a human being.)

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