Review: “Thunderbird,” Chuck Wendig

Pros: Deeper and deeper into the worldbuilding…
Rating: 5 out of 5

Chuck Wendig’s Thunderbird (Miriam Black 4) picks up about a year after The Cormorant left off. Miriam is trying to find Mary Stitch, also known as Mary Scissors, who supposedly knows how to remove one’s “gift” or “curse”, depending on how the individual thinks of their psychic powers. Unfortunately Mary moves around a lot. Miriam is currently in Arizona, and Gabby is with her. Miriam nearly gets killed by someone who’s trying to kidnap a child, and thus ends up embroiled in a terrorist plot to bomb a courthouse. Once again, she’s stumbled across people like her–psychics, with their own unusual powers. One is a human lie detector. One has had a vision of the apocalypse, involving plague and invasion. Miriam is pushed to her limits–and beyond–in her attempt to stop a bombing and get rid of her curse to see people’s deaths. It seems that Death has a blind spot when it comes to her, however, and her ability to control the birds is leveling up. Both come in handy when she winds up mostly-dead and abandoned in the desert.

Miriam tried to contact Louis at the end of the last book, but apparently he’s gone and found someone else and is engaged to be married. Despite the fact that Miriam has left him behind on multiple occasions, this isn’t easy for her to face. I like the fact that she thinks all of the selfish thoughts we’d all like to pretend don’t go through our heads when we have to be the bigger person. I also like the fact that sometimes Gabby calls Miriam on her “woe-is-me” drama (although to be fair, sometimes Miriam has earned that pity party).

The apocalyptic visions intrigue me. I really hope that the last two books in the series will get into that more, because it isn’t resolved in this book. One of the things I find most interesting about the various psychics Miriam comes across is that these are the only people who can change fate, each in their own way. Miriam knows that each death she foretells will happen exactly as predicted no matter what she does… unless she trades a life for a life (kills one person to save another). One of the ways she knows something is up with a militia that chases after her is because they manage to kill someone who should have lived much longer. The whole system is really original and creative.

Content note for blood, violence, and animal harm. Also, I’ll note once again that Miriam can be a bit offensive, but I never get the impression the author condones her offensiveness–rather that Miriam is meant to be a work-in-progress as a human being.

Gabby admired Miriam for knowing exactly what she was and leaning into it, even if what she was happened to be a drunken clown car crashing head-on into a tractor trailer carrying beehives.

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