Preface: Lila Bowen is a nom de plume for Delilah Dawson, author of quite a few books that I enjoy. More on that later.
Twitter Summary: It’s like There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom if Bradley lived in the Wild West and hunted monsters.
Amazon Affiliate Link: Wake of Vultures (The Shadow)
It is no knock on this book that my favorite parts were where the main character just does ranch hand/cowpoke things. Delilah has a knack for making that just as much part of the character’s story arc as anything that happens farther into the book. This book is very much about the journey of Nettie/Nat as she discovers who and what she is. The fact that along the way she becomes a bad ass monster hunter just seems like a natural extension of that question.
We’re also introduced that main point in first two lines.“Nettie Lonesome had two things in the world that were worth a sweet goddamn: her old boots and her one-eyed mule, Blue. Neither item belonged to her.” Belonging is a powerful theme that Nettie constantly revisits. It really resonates with the perennial refrains that a lot of us have going through our heads from an early age. “Who am I?”/ “Where do I fit in?” / “Can I go the distance?”.
That’s not to say that the story skimps on the action. Vampires, Harpies, and other monsters prove obstacles as Nettie tries to answer those questions. But I really feel it’s the down moments that Nettie’s character shines through. I really enjoyed Nettie doing ranch things. That’s a rare thing.
It comes from the fact Delilah is an author who has a talent for dialogue and voice. Another great example of it is in the short Catcall ,which will be going on my Hugo nominations list, as well as her story in the anthology Violent Ends.
She tries to share that talent with other authors as well. You can find some of her author advice at Chuck Wendig’s site, Terrible Minds. They’re informative and hilarious. Two example.
Nettie’s story arc goes through a bunch of monsters, leaving them dead in her wake, but it didn’t seem to be about that. The author has very deftly combined an emotional story arc with a ass-kicking , monster slaying plot, to come up with something very satisfying.
Final Verdict: Thoroughly Enjoyed and will be pre-ordering the sequel.
Other Fantasy YA: Younger Gods by Mike Underwood, The Finishing School series by Gail Carriger, The Court of Fives by Kate Elliott