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Conspiracy of Ravens (The Shadow) Hardcover – October 11, 2016
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"Rhett is one of Bowen's (Dawson's) best characters to date, and the world built in this series is rich and complex. One of my favorite new series, to be sure. If you haven't picked up the first book, Wake of Vultures, you really should. Then pick this one up too."―Pop Culture Beast
"Frankly, I need more Nettie Lonesome's on my shelf."―B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
"Gritty and well-realized... The unforgiving western landscape is home to supernatural beasties as diverse as the human inhabitants, and no-nonsense Nettie is pragmatic and brave. Themes of self-worth, gender, and the complexity of identity are treated with frank realism and sensitivity, and the narrative is a love letter to the paranormal western genre."―Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Wake of Vultures
"Of all the books I've reviewed this year, Wake of Vultures' Nettie Lonesome stands out as the most compelling, well-crafted protagonist I've encountered... Bowen's superlative grasp of both character development and worldbuilding elevates a familiar story to mythic heights. "―RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!) on Wake of Vultures
"Bowen's Wake of Vultures overflows with imagination and voice, channeling shades of Stephen King's Gunslinger and Western classics like Unforgiven. Nettie Lonesome is sure to become one of the iconic characters of this generation. This book puts you under its spell and will not let you go!"―Jason M. Hough, New York Times bestselling author on Wake of Vultures
"Bowen has created a fascinating, textured Wild West world...Readers will love this absorbing fantasy adventure [and] its strong, dynamic heroine."―Kirkus (starred review) on Wake of Vultures
"Wake of Vultures is, quite simply, brilliant. A mind-bending mix of history, fantasy and folklore, it's a wild bronco of a read that'll leave you breathless for more."―Rachel Caine on Wake of Vultures
"Nettie Lonesome is a complex, tough, all-around wonderful protagonist. And Lila Bowen is equally wonderful for bringing us Nettie's story, set in a magical old west full of harpies and monster-hunters and stolen children and more. I look forward to more of Nettie's journey."―Jim C. Hines on Wake of Vultures
"I don't care what else you've seen in the bookstore today. Buy this book because it's the thrilling, delightfully written, and important one you've always wanted to read."―Kevin Hearne on Wake of Vultures
"Wake of Vultures doesn't just fly -- it soars. Lila Bowen brings in a wild fantasy quite unlike anything I've ever read, with a voice that's weird and wonderful. Bowen is truly a talent to watch. Hot damn, is this book good."―Chuck Wendig on Wake of Vultures
"Sharp as a silver Bowie and unsentimental as a stray bullet, Lila Bowen's Nettie Lonesome earns a place among the legends of the Weird West."―Matthew Stover on Wake of Vultures
"Wake of Vultures is a ferocious, fascinating take on the magical Old West - creatively and unsentimentally grim, yet rich with hope and heart."―Cherie Priest on Wake of Vultures
"Nettie Lonesome kicks major ass. There is something strange and wonderful going on in Lila Bowen's head. It's the weird west fantasy that I never knew I've always wanted to read. Now I need more!"―Wesley Chu on Wake of Vultures
About the Author
Lila Bowen is a pseudonym for Delilah S. Dawson, who writes fantasy, horror, young adult, comics, and romance. She recently won the Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence from RT Book Reviews. Delilah loves fancy boots, trail rides, adventures, and cupcakes and lives in the North Georgia mountains with her husband, children, a Tennessee Walking Horse named Polly, and a floppy mutt named Merle.
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After jumping off the cliff at the end of Wake of Vultures, our protagonist has experienced some monumental self-discovery. For one, he’s realized that he is Rhett and a man, and the narrative no longer uses she/her pronouns. For another, he’s a shapeshifter. Once he resumes human form, he meets Earl O’Bannon, an Irish shifter who is desperate need of the Rangers. A railroad baron has been trapping monsters inside his camp and stealing body parts from them. This sounds like a job for the Shadow and his friends.
Structurally, Conspiracy of Ravens was a lot more cohesive than the first book. It felt like much more of a unified plot and less like a monster of a week type format. While Rhett still had encounters with other creatures along his way to the railroad camp (noticeably a scene that felt like an homage to The Last Unicorn), it felt like one book instead of a series of strung together encounters.
In the first book, I had been reading the protagonist as genderqueer, but Conspiracy of Ravens makes it clear that Rhett is a transman. He is no longer referred to as “Nettie” and the narrative uses he/him pronouns instead of she/her.
However, I’m actually not a huge fan of Rhett. He’s sort of a jerk. Maybe part of it is that he’s somewhat lacking in social skills? But he’s also got more than a little sexism in him. I was hoping to see him grow on this front, but it doesn’t really happen in this book. It seems more like whenever he meets an admirable female character (and Winifred is totally awesome) he categorizes her as an exception to the general passiveness and weakness that is womenkind. But the sexism does feel more like a character trait than a narrative trait, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I’m still hoping that Rhett will have some character growth in this area in future books.
My other complaint is that Rhett has way too many love interests. Look, I’m not a reader who’s a fan of love triangles, so a book with three love interests? Urgh, no thanks. I hope things get resolved fairly soon, because I’m tired of romance drama.
All that said, I am definitely reading book three. I think Conspiracy of Ravens actually made some improvements upon the first book, and I’m excited to see where the series will go from here.
I received an ARC of Conspiracy of Ravens from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
During this time Rhett is constantly working out what it means to be Rhett and how his friends/posse truly care for him. At times the story gets bogged down in this process but eventually moves on to the next part of the adventure. The world of monsters and witches/alchemists is broadened and we get to explore a little more of Durango Territory. The ending definitely has a few leads that have you wanting the next book now.
All in all a great read. I love having a western with a good dose of fantasy -- or is it a fantasy with a good dose of western -- and great characters. Again, there was a couple of times where the story telling got bogged down with some major character development but I guess that's going to happen when that character is struggling with gender identity. Two thumbs up, 4 of 5 stars -- you will enjoy it!
Near the beginning of the book, the characters enter a town that has some monster that Rhett feels compelled to find even though it's not part of their mission. They discover this monster only to be drugged/hypnotized/compelled into having sex with each other and possibly others (ie. rape as they couldn't give consent), as well as killing and eating someone (yes, cannibalism) that this monster didn't like. The only person to hazily remember anything is Rhett. Coyote Dan, who was not with the group, later says that he thinks it was a god. Rhett just shrugs it off and goes on with the original mission. WHAT?!?!? They were all just compelled to do things they wouldn't do if they were in their right minds and Rhett just blows it off?!?!?! UGH! Ugh ugh ugh! What possessed the author to put this truly offensive scene in and then not have it play an important part of the story? Maybe it'll come up in the 3rd book, but I'm not sure I want to read the 3rd.
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Book one concluded with a scene that allowed the reader to come up with his or her own conclusion.Read more