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Wake of Vultures (The Shadow) Hardcover – October 27, 2015
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"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)
"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
"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
"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!)
"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
"Bowen has created a fascinating, textured Wild West world...Readers will love this absorbing fantasy adventure [and] its strong, dynamic heroine."―Kirkus (starred review)
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"There are fast-paced thrill-a-minute novels where the plot twists and wild action just. Keep. Coming. And then there are introspective books about someone searching for their identity and untangling deep issues of race, sexuality and gender. And then occasionally, you get a book that manages to do both. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen is one such book, and it's a goddamn keeper."―io9
"Wake of Vultures occupies a unique position somewhere between gritty western, supernatural horror, and just-plain-weird fantasy."―B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
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 books, 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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Top Customer Reviews
The language and the setting evoke the 19th century southwest, though it’s actually a fictional country. There are some obvious nods to pop culture as well—guess what happens to the guy in the red shirt. It also feels a little bit like young adult with its teenaged heroine and ‘be yourself’ message, but I’m pretty sure it’s rated R for language, not to mention the nudity, sexual situations, and graphic violence. So I do get the Buffy part, although I would argue that Nettie isn’t there yet. This is the story of how she got to be ‘Buffy.’
Nettie Lonesome is, she assumes, half black and half Native American, but she was “adopted” at a very young age by a white couple and grew up working their farm. They don’t call her a slave, but they don’t treat her like family either. One night she’s attacked by a strange man who turns to sand when she drives a stick through his heart. From that point on, Nettie can see monsters. And her world is full of them. She encounters vampires and werewolves, as well as mythological creatures like sirens and harpies. I love how those monsters are re-imagined to fit the western setting.
Nettie doesn’t know where she came from so she spends a lot of time trying to figure out who she is supposed to be. She knows that it’s not who she’s been told to be. Nettie started dressing like a boy to make her farm work easier, and because it keeps Pap from looking at her the same way he looks at Mam. When she leaves the farm after killing the vampire, being a boy makes it easier for her work as a ranch hand and later as a Ranger. She learns about race, gender, sexuality and even humanity as she goes. As much as I love the ‘be who you want to be’ message, I felt like it got a bit heavy handed. But the whole point of an origin story is for the hero to figure out who they want to be. When it all clicks for Nettie, it’s a beautiful thing.
But Wake of Vultures was slow getting started for me. Nettie spends more than a quarter of the book working on a ranch. I’m not really a horse person, so I was a lot more interested in the vampires. I do recognize that it was well done, though. Someone more interested in horses and ranching may not think it was slow at all. Once Nettie met up with the Rangers and started fighting monsters, I was really engrossed in the story.
I was surprised by where Nettie wound up at the end of her journey, but I’m excited about what she discovered. I’m also curious about whether she’ll continue down that Buffy path. I really like the Scoobies she’s gathered so far, so I’m glad there’s going to be at least one more book in the series.
Originally published at Vampire Book Club and based on a copy provided by the publisher.
- See more at: http://vampirebookclub.net/early-review-wake-of-vultures-by-lila-bowen-the-shadow-1/#sthash.uX8KQkRT.dpuf
Lila Bowen takes a corner of space and time that few others have paid attention to, and she makes it her own. It's a ways after the Civil-War in the Southwest US, yet Nettie Lonesome is basically a slave. Black amid whites, a girl with the desire and ability to do the things only men do, utterly unloved and unremarked, when her life is changed by an unexpected, unexpectedly supernatural attack, she walks away from her old life with hardly a thought, and remakes herself. She goes with her instincts and disguises herself – successfully – as a boy: Rhett. In the best F&SF tradition, she begins to seek to create her own family where none has ever existed for her before.
And then things turn upside-down again. Ghosts, creatures, shapeshifters – after a childhood and youth of unrelentingly painful sameness, suddenly she has more excitement to face than she could ever have dreamed. And she falls in with the Rangers – who, it turns out, are primarily tasked with fighting not Indians or Mexicans but supernatural dangers.
This was a fascinating aspect of the story for me. At one point the captain muses about perception. They would follow a trace or a cry for help into a town or settlement, where something would have been having its way with the populace, laying waste and eating its fill. In would come the Rangers, and destroy the whatever-it-was – but "by the time news reaches a town, all that's left of the monsters is sand and ashes." A number of citizens are dead; those who saw what did it don't believe the evidence of their own sense; the things that did do it are dead and gone. And there are the Rangers, figuratively standing over the bodies. "We keep folks safe, and they villainize us for it…"
There are lots more surprises, for the reader and for Nettie herself, all the way up to the end – which (warning!) is an all but literal cliffhanger. I have never been so glad to have immediate access to a sequel, I think, because I was fully invested in the story, the setting, and the characters – especially, of course, Nettie herself. It's a wonderful, remarkable, unique world Lila Bowen has created out of this desert.
The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.