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A dark, biting literary debut for fans of Caroline Kepnes following the unlikely bond between two sociopaths―and the destruction left in their wake.

“When I was eight years old, I was abducted from a fast food restaurant by a man who took me, in all likelihood, because of a small splotch of mayonnaise on his hamburger. And so I believe in neither free will nor predetermination. I believe in condiments.”

A cold-blooded killer-for-hire, Edison North drifts across America from city to city, crime scene to crime scene, leaving behind a world in flames. But during a random bloodbath at a fast food restaurant, Edison meets Christian, a young girl who mirrors his own vacant stare and stink of “other.” Though it’s been a long time since he felt anything resembling a human connection, something about this desperately lonely child calls to him. Edison feels certain she deserves better. And while he is not convinced that he can give her that, he can make her stronger. So begin the chronicles of Edison North―and his protégé.

As Edison begins Christian’s strange apprenticeship, Christian looks back upon her fractured upbringing and the training that made her into the killer she’s become. What follows is a brilliant―and ultimately tender―character study of two outsiders whose improbably forged bond unleashes a new facet of the human experience between them―and a jagged slash of violence on the world around them.

312 pages, Hardcover

First published November 14, 2017

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About the author

Michael Fiegel

12 books40 followers
Michael Fiegel is a writer and designer best known as the creator of Ninja Burger, an Internet cult classic that spawned a series of books and games. In addition to his work in the game industry, Fiegel has written and designed for a number of online outlets. Blackbird is Michael Fiegel's first novel. He lives in Seattle with his wife.

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5 stars
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330 (36%)
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221 (24%)
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73 (8%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
October 1, 2018
The targets are just a bunch of heads at the end of the day, and inside each is a big juicy brain, about two pounds of which is water. The human body is mostly water, in fact, roughly two-thirds. We are literally trash bags full of liquid, waiting to pop. There are a hundred thousand miles of blood vessels, connected to a fist-sized muscle pushing five liters of blood around with enough force to squirt ten yards through the air should someone put a bullet through your neck.

Ah, yes. People fascinate me. I could kill them for hours.

i caught the tail end of an episode of America in Primetime this morning, which was focused on the way that the idea of the ‘hero’ has become more and more blurry throughout the history of television; the rise of antiheroes and situational morality and drama reflecting a violent reality and the catharsis of applauding a vigilante sensibility if the end result is just. or something like that - i didn’t catch all of it. but i did catch the david simon parts, first when he was discussing The Wire, and omar in particular - who never put his gun on no citizen, and then in his reaction to Dexter, which was respectful, but also firm - david simon is not on board with a show that celebrates violence to the extent it does, or glamorizes a serial killer into hero-status.

and all that is on my mind now as i sit down to finally review this book. because this is an unequivocally violent book, and while edison, the central character is indeed a killer - for hire, or strategically, for self-preservation, or occasionally recreationally, he’s never cast in a heroic light. or even an antiheroic light. it’s a really unusual angle to approach a character - it’s not about sympathizing with a sociopath, the way Dexter or You are designed and it’s never passed off as an essentially good person doing bad things for noble reasons, or because of trauma or abuse or affective shortcomings. fiegel knows how he wants readers to respond to edison, and he leaves no room for ambiguity. i have the pagehabit copy, annotated by the author, and one of the post-it notes reads:

This was one of the hardest scenes to write, but I really needed to show who Edison was.

(it’s on page 49, if you’re curious)

i had expectations going into this book that were slightly off - i thought it was about a man, a killer, who kidnapped a little girl and raised her up in his image, and they went off on a léon:the professional/natural born killers/take your daughter to killing spree adventures. and it’s sort of like that, but with many unusual details that make the relationship less…chummy. i’ve read two books this year, with criminal daddy/eager daughter relationships: She Rides Shotgun, and The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, but this one is the least likely to be made into a hallmark channel movie. unless hallmark drastically changes their stance on spree killing.

don’t get me wrong, i really enjoyed this book, but it plays rough and it never lets you become complacent with the character’s acts. it’s a lot like American Psycho that way, where you kind of get desensitized to the body count until ellis is all, NOW I BRING TINY MAMMALS INTO IT, and you’re shocked anew. there is nothing as graphic as that scene anywhere in this book, and edison is less irredeemable a character, but there are several moves i didn’t see coming, and i was like “damn, edison, wtf, dude?”

it’s not just edison’s story; it’s split between him and xtian, the girl he kidnaps at age 8, and the novel covers ten years of their exploits, but while her perspective is interesting, she gets a little harley quinn-flamboyant in her teens, and he’s a more subtle puzzle-box, which to me is more compelling and lasting.

i am very grateful to pagehabit for sending this my way, and i look forward to whatever this author has planned next.


three literal jaw-drops. not bad, book...

review to come!


oh, my god - another awesome horror box from pagehabit??

this one might be the best one yet: this book (which i had been really wanting to read), a short story by brian evenson ♥, a cute tote bag, and a tiny magnifying glass for my old-ass eyes that manages to make the body's failings fun!! plus all the annotations & etc. i am AMPED!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Jaline.
444 reviews1,608 followers
July 12, 2018
This was not an easy read for me. Aside from the fact that one must pay attention or miss out on some important information, this book alternately attracted and repelled me. I had to put it down many times. I had to pick it back up many times.

Of all my armchair journeys, I have never yet spent one in the company of a terrorist, or terrorists. If I had a little box for that, it would now have a check mark. I not only spent time with domestic terrorists, but I was in their heads. Most of their story is told from journal entries made on an old laptop computer, giving this story both immediacy and intimacy. It is also why I felt so uncomfortable, yet mesmerized.

Everything is in present time – thoughts and impressions of what happened immediately before the writer sat down at the laptop. There are two voices here: one known as Edison North, and one known as Christian initially, then Xtian (eks-chin). Both people are also known by multiple other names, depending on the situation, job, and where they are in the process.

During the ten years chronicled by these main journal entries and the additions Xtian included, the two are involved in some ‘jobs’, but for the most part, they are caught in the cross-hairs (and cross-fire) of several “cell wars” – where various terrorist cells are attempting to kill the others off to gain supremacy. Spoken of dispassionately, one should be cheering. But I didn’t cheer.

I also didn’t applaud, except for when one or the other managed to get the other person out of big trouble. Idealist me wanted to see redemption. In a way, I did get my wish; in other ways, a lot of tragedies occurred that didn’t look like any redemption I’ve ever seen.

This novel is chilling, yet I couldn’t help feeling warmth for the two main characters. It is also brutal, callous, and heartless. Even the most redeemable of the ‘bad guys’ don’t always escape unscathed; nor do some of them escape alive.

This novel is also tender in a convoluted way. It is filled with paradox; evil-thinking people doing evil deeds that I could never condone. Yet, I felt a connection with some of these evil people that I can’t even make sense of.

I have a feeling that this book and these characters will remain with me for a long time. I have definitely been thinking about them a lot, and maybe that is this book’s greatest accomplishment: to get us thinking and wondering about situations in our world in ways that have nothing to do with any media reporting.

There are always many different views of certain events that happen in our world. I’m quite sure that, right or wrong, good or evil, this novel offers a view I hadn’t perceived before. I’m still not sure I want to remember this story. I’m even less sure that I can ever forget it.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,911 followers
September 21, 2017
I'm going with 2.5 stars but I'm rounding up to three stars because I'm really not sure how I feel about this book.

The first part of the book I liked more than the second. Edison is a serial killer for hire. He doesn't have real emotions and freely admits to that. Then one day he is at a restaurant and sees eight year old Christina. He takes her. She deserves a better life than the one she is living (he feels.)

Don't get all excited, he doesn't take her because he is an old pervert. He is just weird and don't forget..a killer. So why does he take this child? He is not really sure himself either. He keeps debating on just when he will kill her and leave her behind. But he doesn't.

That begins their weird relationship. Christina now called Xtina by Edison doesn't go to normal school. She gets taught by Edison. Not the ABC's like most kids. Her training includes how to kill herself if they ever get caught, gun usage, how to kill as many people as possible...you know, the normal stuff.

Then once Xtina is old enough she gets pulled into Edison's line of business. This is when the book started losing me....it got rambly and hard to read.
Honestly, I was bored and didn't really care anymore.

I think it's supposed to be a character study on these two characters but the skills were just not there to pull it off. (Don't start with me trolls...it's just my opinion.) The book had an interesting premise but it just didn't get it for me. I kept making myself read the thing..and honestly you shouldn't have to do that for a better book.

**no gifs for this review because my internet is acting a damn fool and I'm too lazy to fight with it**

Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,730 reviews6,662 followers
September 11, 2017
[considering 3.5 stars]
Caroline Kepnes, the author of You and
Hidden Bodies, subtly recommended Michael Fiegel's Blackbird on her Facebook page. It was just a little tidbit at the end of a long post about this book she was currently enjoying...subtle but intriguing. It's not scheduled for release until November 2017 but now I have to get my hands on it, right?! Edelweiss had a review copy available and I snapped it up. It took me two weeks to read it: some issues with my own time availability and some issues with story engagement/investment. But after finishing, I can honestly say I enjoyed it. I loved how character-driven this book was. If you asked me what it's about, I could say it's about a serial mass murderer for hire and a kidnapped girl. And it is. But it's also about an unconventional family, mentorship in the art of terror, coming of age in the height of dysfunction, it's about turning pain into life lessons, turning fear into indifference, and the gradual shifting of roles. It's not about any specific storyline that can be conveyed. It's about the strange companionship between a man and a girl. Admittedly, I was afraid this story was going in a direction I didn't want to read due to genders and ages but know that it's not that kind of book. I have my complaints but pedophilia thankfully wasn't one of them.

In an effort to provide a well-rounded and honest review, I must also add some distractions I experienced during my reading of the review copy I received. I found Blackbird to be choppy and a bit difficult to follow at times. POV shifts between the two characters weren't consistently clear during my reading experience. Sometimes, it took a minute to process that a section was a new character perspective and/or timeframe. Also, it appeared to me that Mr. Fiegel skirted along the edges of darkness without giving this story the heaviness it needed to tip over the edge. Some readers may appreciate this and some may find frustration in its absence. Personally, I needed just a little bit more. *Please note that the review copy I received may or may not be the final edition so some of these issues may still be in the fine-tuning process.

Overall, Blackbird was an interesting debut novel that could be easily recommended to fans of character driven, borderline-dark novels. In my opinion, the positives outweigh any negatives mentioned in this review. I'm glad I read it and am appreciative of the opportunity. I will be keeping my eye on this very talented author. Check it out!

My favorite quote:
"I remember streets safe enough to walk down at night, sidewalks covered in chalk instead of urine and shit, lawns peppered with divots from tackle football rather than blued with cancer-causing chemicals. When children played outside, and a president actually resigned from office (eventually) when faced with possible impeachment for his misdeeds. It was still a time when there was more to be afraid of, yet for all that, people were less afraid. And more human."

Thank you to the following for permitting me access to a digital review copy (DRC) of Blackbird. This generosity did not impact my honesty when rating/reviewing.
Author: Michael Fiegel
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
On Sale Date: November 7, 2017
Profile Image for Leo.
4,311 reviews389 followers
March 13, 2021
A cold blooded killer kidnaps a young girl from a restaurant because he feels an oddly connection with her (not in a Lolita way) and feels like he can turn her into something better, like him self. Kind of a coming of age story with a dark twist, this was impossible to put down and this was very exciting and entertaining in a dark way to read. Would definitely read more by Michael Fiegel in the future.
Profile Image for Em.
42 reviews10 followers
August 26, 2017
What to say about this book... Is it disturbing? Yes. Is it alarming? Yes. Would I let my mother read it?
Probably not. Despite the murder and mayhem, does it wiggle itself down into your heart and soul like some weird little worm and dig up little bits of emotions you didn't know you had? Most definitely.
On every level this book isn't really something I would usually go for, and yet here we are with me gushing about it. Somehow in its own dark and twisted way it tugs at your heartstrings and leaves you empathizing and sympathizing with two pretty messed up characters that are both people you can't imagine existing and so real that they could be your neighbors.
In the end it's basically a love story. Not the sappy, frilly kind with a happy ending and noble selflessness. It's the Sid and Nancy kind, where there's a feedback loop and the chaos keeps amplifying until, like binary stars, they collapse into themselves.
It's dark, disturbing, utterly engrossing, and oddly sweet in its own twisted way. I highly recommend Michael Fiegel's debut novel Blackbird.
Profile Image for Talk Supe.
1,263 reviews91 followers
February 13, 2018
It started with mayonnaise.

BLACKBIRD is a tale about a domestic terrorist that abducted a child and trained her to be like him. You’ll probably expect a lot of blood and guts, and you’ll get that. What you probably won’t expect is how human this book is.

That said, Michael Fiesel didn’t try for the sympathy vote, at least not IMO, he was very straightforward in showing how bad Edison North is and unapologetically so. What I liked here is the balance, it didn’t try to shock or scare, it presented the story as is and despite Edison’s methods and beliefs, that he’s still human and probably even more decent than others.
Profile Image for ..
1 review1 follower
May 24, 2021
reminds me of the sophocles quote “I am the shape you made me. Filth teaches filth.”
just so good
1 review
August 1, 2017
I have read various editions of Blackbird over the last 10 years and it's only gotten better with age, so sort of like Helen Mirren. I am very pleased that a larger audience will finally be exposed to the Chronicles of Edison North - it's been a long time coming and has certainly been worth the wait. I hope that you'll all enjoy reading about our favorite pair of misanthropes as much as those of us lucky enough to have been along for the ride have.
Profile Image for Joanna.
2,112 reviews27 followers
May 26, 2021
Wow. Some very disturbing real-world crap in here, but compelling. Damaged people, doing damage. I couldn’t put it down.
Profile Image for Dominus~.
1,175 reviews34 followers
December 31, 2017
It was spectacularly different.

Knowing about something is useless unless you can do something about it.

I cannot point out how true and real this is. You can say whatever you want or any excuses you can think of but the truth is right there in that quote.

The analogies here are the best. Its very entertaining and different. It has like a mix of lightness in a see of grayness. The duo here is comical, in contrast of the subject matter of the book.

Here is an example:

The representation of the human body as told probably by a psychopath. Its very accurate and its something I've never thought of which is really amazing.

The human body is mostly water, in fact, roughly two-thirds. We are literally trash bags full of liquid, waiting to pop. There are a hundred thousand miles of blood vessels, connected to a fist-sized muscle pushing five liters of blood around with enough force to squirt ten yards through the air should someone put a bullet through your neck.

He talks so much like a Dad too its so confusing:

And off they go, not so much as a goodbye.
All grown up.

Lastly!!! i just learned the difference between the "Can I" to "May I" and I'm flabbergasted! That was amazing. How old am I again?

I love the book but I really don't know what happened.

Parting remark:

“Xtian, apologize for your generation, please.”

“You broke us.”
1 review
October 22, 2017
As I get older, fewer fiction novels seem to be able to enthrall me and leave me considering them a "page-turner". This is a notable exception. From the first chapter to the last it pulls you in and doesn't let go, and when it does you wished it hadn't yet. Every page leaves you wanting more, grasping for something tangible much like the characters. It satisfies yet leaves you hungry, it fulfills you with an emptiness that few novels or authors I've ever encountered are capable of. To say that it is exquisite and profound does it little justice. A perfect time for a perfect story.

The author has a way with language and story that so few do and somehow seems capable of speaking on behalf of more than one generation to every generation at once. From biting social commentary to dark and witty humor, engaging action and subtle wisdom, unsettling and grotesque, sweet and sticky, stark contrasts and the all too familiar; this should be the next book you read and possibly the next you recommend to others.
Profile Image for Erin.
500 reviews23 followers
May 29, 2018
Dark and twisty!

Edison is bad...morally reprehensible...there's no noble motives for his kills or pained guilt after he destroys lives. And, one day he drags an innocent little girl into his life because of mayonnaise...

Xtian becomes the monster that he made her.

I expected this book to be more of a father-daughter murder spree, but instead, I found two fundamentally broken characters who just can't give up one another. Dark and twisty...in a way that Meredith Grey could never hope to achieve!
8 reviews
March 19, 2018
Dark as a Blackbird

Very strange and dark storyline . Cells of killers who work for an unknown organization . No reason is ever given for their “jobs” . A child abducted by one of the killers is raised and groomed to become one of “them”. Very dark and existential story line .
December 30, 2017
I devoured this. It affected me deeply and it will forever be one of my favorite stories of all time. Michael Fiegel - you effing rock.
Profile Image for Donna.
45 reviews5 followers
March 22, 2018
Wow! I really enjoyed this book.
229 reviews30 followers
May 11, 2018
This book caused me to fall out of bed one night. I was dreaming about something similar to Blackbird and I fell out of bed trying to get away from what was happening. Don't let that discourage you from reading it It has been put in the horror genre but I am not so sure it belongs there. The story is about a professional for hire serial killer. A loner mostly. One day at a fast food restaurant he sees a little girl being ignored by the other kids and mistreated verbally by the boy behind the counter. So he does what any red blooded serial killer would do. He shoots a bunch of people and kidnaps the little girl. I don't know how much the author really knows about "cells" and killers but if there is some truth in what he writes, there is a whole subculture of people I hope I never meet. What makes this book so engrossing isn't the killing, it is the relationship that forms between the serial killer and the child. The story covers about 14 years so the reader gets to know these two people pretty well.
The author doesn't pull any punches as he describes the evolving connection between the killer and the little girl. His writing is concise. No flowery descriptions here. The story is told in alternating chapters by the two main characters. What he wants the little girl to know is " This is the way it is so get used to it.". She does. She learns what it takes to be like him.
Blackbird is one of the few books I keep thinking about over and over again. I am sure parts of this tale will stay with me forever.
This book was in one of my monthly Page Habit boxes. It was not free. The opinions above are my honest feelings about Blackbird.
January 23, 2019
Surprised by how good this book is!

I passed on this book a few times before reading it, I thought the story line would be weird, yet oddly compelled to read it. I have to say it was very different from anything I've ever read . I loved it and will follow this extraordinary author. Highly recommend this book to heavy readers looking for something unique and fresh, you will not be disappointed.
This book should be made into a movie, if done correctly it would be incredible!
Profile Image for Alanna Scanlon.
18 reviews
February 17, 2019
I had no real expectations when I started this book, but the story starts out at high speed drawing you in immediately to the intertwined lives of the two protagonists - talk about Stockholm Syndrome gone wrong! This is not a book for anyone who wants to like their lead characters - very much the point of this book. It is also not for anyone who gets queasy at the thought of violence...especially collateral damage. Writing with two fonts gives two voices to a single story, which is clever for the most part, but sometimes tedious as the characters ruminate over the same issues repeatedly. Don’t look for a happy ending...maybe just a lead-in to a sequel?
6 reviews
March 18, 2018
Wow! Great novel.

He related truthfully how our messed up world is, and I felt his meaning was just as it really is today. I loved how he used this in the story. I read it in 2 days, but could have done it in one. He weaves a great story, and I look forward to more books from him.
Profile Image for Susan.
789 reviews14 followers
December 26, 2022
This is a dark tale with some redeeming features. Barely. Hard to be empathetic to the main character, who is, apparently, a terrorist, possibly working within a cell or perhaps with the government or both. Yet I did feel something, pity, sympathy, even liked him at times. And I was totally engrossed in this book.
Profile Image for Shannon Tuttle.
36 reviews6 followers
February 5, 2018
I've been looking forward to reading this book since Caroline Kepnes recommended it and I was definitely not disappointed. I enjoyed living in Edison and Christian's world and minds and even had a couple moments where I gasped out loud. Michael Fiegel is definitely a master of the chapter ending cliffhanger that makes you want to read on. I look forward to what he will write next!
Profile Image for Doreen Cavazza.
133 reviews
April 3, 2019
Now THAT'S how to write a good book. This is well written, engaging, and I can't say enough good about it. The author knows how to spin a tale that's interesting and gripping. Very good character development. I was sad to leave them when I finished the book. I couldn't put the book down. The story grabs you right from the beginning and keeps you hooked. It's gritty and not for the faint of heart, perhaps, and I loved it. I recommend this book highly.
Profile Image for Fred.
305 reviews6 followers
January 14, 2021
A professional assassin kidnaps an 8-year-old girl. He then begins to train her to become a killer and the two form a bond that neither understands. This is a strange novel with a psychological undertone and lots of action. It makes interesting reading and has a shocker at the end of the book. I must admit that I'm not sure everyone would enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Popkins.
64 reviews1 follower
September 14, 2018
Absolutely loved this book! I really enjoyed reading the point of view from the main characters, often stories like these are written from one perspective.
16 reviews
January 22, 2019
very well written book. I Really enjoyed the story and the characters.
11 reviews
June 22, 2021
This is very much a Lolita written for the second decade of the 21st Century in a world that Nabokov would never recognize as worth inhabiting
it is a vicious social satire and an enlightened answer to current conspiracy theorists, embedded in a book about the training of an assassin.
it is alternately repellent, hilarious, brilliant and profound. Best book of 2021.
Profile Image for Kel.
58 reviews15 followers
April 18, 2018
I LOVE vile, immoral characters that make you hate yourself for loving them. This book is packed full of them, but I will miss Edison North most.
Profile Image for Letha  Griffin.
27 reviews
March 24, 2018
Different from my usual choices

I got pulled into the story early and had to stay for the whole ride. Interesting premise and well developed characters .
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