BY: KATIE MARSHALL
After his mother’s death, Brian suffers severe trauma from his abusive father. When the abuse becomes too much, Brian’s mind splits into multiple personalities and starts him down a path of murder and destruction. Lizzie ’s life is turned upside down when she is tortured by a serial killer. Now she has to learn to cope with a new school, new friends, and a new life with a sister that she didn’t meet until recently. As Lizzie struggles to discover the identity of the man who ruined her life, people think she’s crazy and suffering from delusions. But when Lizzie finally discovers that Brian was her attacker, the two collide in a battle of survival…
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Blackbird’s Song by Katie Marshall, Lizzie is trying to recover from being tortured by a serial killer. She knows the guy is still out there, and he’s still tormenting her, even though her family and friends think she’s crazy. She and her sister move from California to Maine, but Lizzie isn’t safe even there. The killer seems almost superhuman in his ability to mess with her mind. And she needs to discover his identity or she has no chance of surviving. But can she do it alone when no one will believe her and she can barely cope with the day-to-day chore of living?
A chilling and intense psychological thriller, this story is not for the faint of heart. Marshall takes us into the mind of a killer with his twisted logic and horrific deeds, creating an unforgettable reading experience.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Blackbird’s Song by Katie Marshall is the story of a young man whose father turns abusive after the mother dies, taking his anger and grief out on the children, Brian and Shelly. Though only nine years old at the time, Brian tries to protect his sister from their father, earning even more abuse for himself. Then comes the moment when the abuse is too much. Brian’s young mind can’t handle it and splits into other personalities designed to protect him. However, as Brian grows up, his fractured mind becomes twisted until the only thing that makes sense is to kill. One of his victims is Lizzie, a sixteen-year-old girl who manages to survive the attack but suffers from PTSD and paranoia. Or is it really paranoia? Lizzie is certain her attacker is still out there, but no one will listen.
The Blackbird’s Song is well written, fast-paced, and intense—a forceful look into the world of the mentally ill and how twisted and evil some people can be. Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down.
Brian raced down the soccer field. Behind him, his opponent was a mere seven years old, while Brian was a proud nine. Brian had the ball in front of him. He saw his mom on the sidelines waving her arms from side to side, lips moving but the words unclear. Brian looked up at his target, as he got close to the goal, only to see his best friend, Adam, waving him away. He ran in the wrong direction. As Brian tried to shift directions, his opponent gained on him, stealing the ball and propelling it into the goal. The opposing team rushed to their comrade as half the little boys began to cheer.
Reluctantly, he got in line behind Adam to give his good sportsmanship high fives. In the crowd, Brian’s mother was directing him to smile with her fingers while his little sister, Michelle rolled on the bench with laughter. She wrapped her purple-sleeved arms around her stomach and threw her head back in exaggerated peals. When she was finished, she adjusted her pink tutu, straightening it before it wrinkled. His mother was always late because of her dance practices.
Brian sulked over to his mother and she tried to give him a hug. “Mom, quit it!”
“It’s okay, honey. I thought you did really good.” She smiled again, trying to make him feel better while she hustled him to the car.
“Yeah, Bub, you were the best player out there,” Michelle said, but the smile she gave him traced an evil glint around her eyes. She started to laugh again before she managed to add, “for the other team.”
“Shut up. You’re too stupid to even know what a ball is.”
“I’m seven not two, you butthead.”
“Okay, you two. Let’s try to be nice to each other,” Mom said.
“I call driver’s side.”
His sister hopped into the seat behind her mother before he had time to object. His mother gave him the “You’re older,” look and he got into the other seat next to his sister. The seat had crumbs from the Saltines Michelle had been eating, so he brushed them to the floor and tugged his juice box from his backpack as his mother pulled into the downtown traffic.
Traffic was backed up on the main street, as it always was at four in the afternoon. While they were caught in the jam, Brian stared out the window at the buildings. They weren’t as tall as the one his father worked in, in the heart of the city, skyscrapers, each one a million miles into the sky. He wondered what it would be like to work in a place like that, just like his dad.
His father worked long nights in the office and, some nights, Brian would wait up to see him. His father would stagger through the doorway at ten, stumbling with exhaustion. His nose was always tomato red, and his mouth curled into a half smile when he saw his son perched in his chair, trying to prevent his eyes from shutting by blinking rapidly. He would thump Brian hard on the head, his breath hot and smelling of alcohol, blowing into his face.
“You run along to bed, kiddo,” he’d say, pulling Brian out of the chair and plopping into it, his body collapsing like a scarecrow.
Some nights, when he was younger, Brian would sneak back out to watch his father dance around the kitchen with his mother. Brian sat at the top of the stairs, peeking between the wooden pegs of the banister railing at the kitchen’s cream colored walls with borders of little blue flowers. His mother hated to dance and tried to brace herself against the kitchen chairs. One night he saw his father scoop her up under her armpits, her legs and arms hanging down trying to make contact with a surface, and spun her in circles while she pleaded with him to be reasonable. Then he stopped and cornered her against the wall, breathing his filth into her ears and calling her “whore.” Brian didn’t know what that meant, but his mother never seemed happy to hear it.
“Hey, Mom, can Dad watch the birds fly by from his window?” Brian turned to see that she hadn’t heard him over the incessant talking of Michelle.
“So Hannah has this brand new Rockstar Barbie that I really want for Christmas. See, Mom, it’s right in this flyer. Mom? Mom!”
“Sweetheart, Mom is trying to watch the road.” She inched the car forward to the intersection lights.
“But, Mom, just look at it for a second. It’s Rockstar Barbie, Mom. She even has a guitar.”
His mother quickly twisted around and gave Michelle a nod followed by a brief sigh. The light turned green and the car moved forward.
Instantly, he heard the clang of metal on metal. It shook the car, spinning it horizontally. The sound of the glass shattering and the honking of the horn rattled in his brain. His ears rang with a high-pitched squeal, echoing through him until he expected his body to explode. He felt the opening of his mouth as his jaw muscles worked against him and realized that part of the noise came from his own muffled scream that caught in his throat. It stunned him for a moment, but when he recovered he could hear nothing but his sister’s screams.
“Oh, my arm! My arm really hurts. Mommy, my arm hurts!” Her tutu was dotted with shards of glass.
The front left side of the car was crumpled into itself. His mother sat silent in the seat. Brian scooted toward his sister and climbed across the center console. “Mom? Mom, are you okay? Mom, please wake up.”
His mother’s eyes were open, sparkling blue like the earrings in her ears. Surrounding her detached beauty were pools of scarlet running from and around her face. It trickled from her ear canal, coating the earring as her neck tilted sideways in the seat. It dripped from her nose and mouth, creating a puddle on the gearshift. Her eyes stared up at him blankly as he tried to find the soul that once was there. For a second, he thought he saw the twinkle reappear in her eyes, a slight indication that she was still there, that she still loved him, but then it vanished again.
Beside him, his sister’s cries turned into incomprehensible screeches. He shook his mother’s shoulder, but she felt so far away. He felt her arm, wondering if it was cold. He had heard that you’re always cold when you die, but she still felt warm and all he wanted to do was crawl into her arms for comfort. Then someone was opening the door and pulling him from the car. He thrashed, screamed, and cried to be put back, but they wouldn’t let him.
© 2017 by Katie Marshall