A rich, dark fantasy of destiny, death, and the supernatural world hiding beneath the surface.
Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She's a half breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don't call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye, can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand.
And just like that, Nettie can see.
But her newfound ability is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn't understand what's under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding - at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin...if the monsters along the way don't kill her first.
©2015 Lila Bowen (P)2015 Hachette Audio
"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)
"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 is a ferocious, fascinating take on the magical Old West - creatively and unsentimentally grim, yet rich with hope and heart." (Cherie Priest)
Firstly, it's a fantasy set in the Old West, which is a subgenre that is woefully untapped. Think Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets Unforgiven and you'll be pretty close. Nettie is an organic, layered character with a grit that made me instantly love her.
Aside from the fantastic story and writing, which stands well on its own, I also have to applaud the author for writing a protagonist who is diverse in not only race, but also gender identity and sexuality. As a person who is also a mixed Black and Native -- and thus shares Nettie's heritage and feelings of 'otherness' -- I'm glad to see Lila Bowen step away from the Cookie Cutter White Fantasy Protagonist and write someone whom I could have identified with as a teen (and still do). We need more diversity in fantasy, and A Wake of Vultures is very welcomed.
Robin Miles did an outstanding job narrating the story. Her acting and pacing were perfect, and I hope she continues to narrate the rest of the series. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
The setting is a way out there version of the wild west where life is spartan but can have nice moments too.
The hero has been held in slavery and ignorance and has had no experiences outside that, so she is very knowing about some things (beatings, verbal abuse and the threat of sexual abuse) and innocent in others. Despite this our hero is able to learn there is more to the world than she thought good and bad, and that she has the right to make her own choices. this gives the book the feel of YA, but more if it's a prequel for a regular adult series about to start.
for the YA feel with adult content and the doubled descriptors ( night deep purple flowers, high sharp cheek bones...) I'm giving it 3 stars for the story but 4 overall with excellent narration. it's an interesting new world the authors created and the characters are people you want to get to know better. I look forward to hearing the next book in the series.
WARNING: There are no graphic sex scenes, but the heroines experience that being a woman is inherently dangerous and makes you an object is based on the women she has seen around her choosing to use sex as a commodity/weapon, or having it stolen as a commodity by men. There is also a rape scene halted just before the worst happens that is chilling and handled well by the author but may be triggering. Definitely would not recommend this book for tween or early teen readers.
The questions "Who am I? Where do I come from? What is my purpose in life?" are as old as humanity. Nettie Lonesome is an abused and exploited orphan who wants to discover her history every bit as much as she wants to find her rightful place in the world. She's been told all her life that no one wants a half-black, half-native girl around. For her own self-protection, Nettie's taken to wearing boy's clothes. People are far less likely to mess with you if they think you're a boy. Plus, women seem to have only two fates open to them: marital servitude or prostitution. When Nettie gets the chance to hire on as a horse trainer, she changes her name to Rhett and hopes she/he won't be scrutinized too closely.
Wake of Vultures is set in an alternate West populated with the monsters of mythology, pop culture, and the all-too-human varieties. The story is engrossing with plenty of thrills, adventures, and battles.
I'll admit I may be biased. I read a lot of books about Joan of Arc as a child. When I discovered Mary Edwards Walker in my family tree, I was over the moon. So reading about Nettie/Rhett warmed my heart more than a little.
I didn't like lonesome dove, and maybe that is why I don't like this story much. I appreciate the diverse protagonist but did feel that her diversity was more important to the author than the story at times.
tldr: not terrible just not my favorite.
Robin Mills brought the characters to life. Loved the Buffy-esqe Western take. The words and language are very apropos of the time.
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