For my first review as part of Self-Published Author’s Appreciation Week I am delighted to be reviewing Vultures, the first book in the Shadow Twins by Luke Tarizan.
Luke Tarizan is not only a self-published author himself, but he also does cover design and you can check out his work and services HERE.
An enemy slain is not a conflict won…
After decades of war the demon Te Mirkvahíl is dead. But its progeny endure, spilling from the Heart of Mirkúr, sowing death across the land of Ariath. If the people are to finally know peace, the Heart must be destroyed. Theailys An believes he can do just that with The Keepers’ Wrath, an infamous power focus wrought in Ariath’s yesteryears–but the weapon first must be reforged.
War spares no one…
Serece never intended to get involved in Ariath’s war. But history and demons have a way of pulling strings. When she learns Theailys An, a man whom she abhors, bears striking similarity to the first creator of The Keepers’ Wrath, Serece departs her mountain world for Ariath to ascertain the truth.
From patience, hope…
For millennia Behtréal has walked the world alone. Rewriting history to resurrect his people is easier said than done. But Ariath holds the key–soon The Keepers’ Wrath will be remade.
Truth from madness…
As paths converge and a shadow falls across Ariath, one thing becomes increasingly and horrifyingly clear–these events have played out many times before.
Vultures has been on my TBR forever and twice. I read it for the first time last summer as part of the IFA summer challenge, and perhaps because I’d been reading so much, or just because of *everything* that was going on that the time, I almost bounced off it and while I ended up finishing it, I didn’t feel like I had been able to savour it properly. I knew at the time that it wasn’t the book. It was just the wrong book at the wrong time, so I put it back on the TBR because I wanted to do this book justice – I wanted to read it and appreciate what the author has done within these pages, and not let a bad mood or the wrong time ruin that experience.
As soon as I set out to work out what books I wanted to feature and review for this week, Vultures was top of the list, and last week with fingers crossed that NOW was the time I dove back in. It was the right time, and it was more than worth the wait, because Vultures is beautifully visceral and deliciously dark, and everything I love about what can be done with fantasy when you push the boundaries… or this case bend and break them completely, to question and challenge everything, and to delve into places and topics that
The problem (and it’s not a problem) with a book like Vultures is that it is an experience. It can’t just be a book that you read. It’s one of those books that you have to sink into and devour and be devoured by. It makes writing a review bloody difficult because that experience is so intensely personal – this is a book that will resonate with everyone in a slightly different way, because it deals with emotions and themes there are by their very nature are intensely human and intensely personal. So, this is a book that you need to read (THAT YOU SHOULD READ) to really be able to appreciate.
However, what I can say is that I am absolutely in love with how Tarzian writes. I enjoyed the prose the first time, and it was one of the reasons I knew for a fact that I needed to come back and reread this one, and this time I was blown away. There is an ethereal quality to the prose, that fits with the use of dreams and dream-like states that feature throughout, but certainly does not detract from the raw emotion that Tarizan manages to convey with the sharp edge of a knife. This book is dark – deliciously so – but there is also a wonderful, delicate thread of tantalising hope that runs through the book, and that balance is held to perfection, drawing you through the darkness, not letting you escape for fear of what could happen to the characters, but promising you dawn at the end of the night.
The characters are as intricately crafted as the prose and the plot, and we spend our time with three main characters – Theailys, Serece and Behtréal, each of whom is complex and compelling, and utterly unique, and sitting down to write this review I found it impossible to choose my favourite because in their own way each is integral to the whole that Tarzian has created in this book. It was impossible not to become invested in each one, even with the almost dreamlike nature of the book interposing a distance that you might not normally encounter, and yet because this was so well balanced with the emotional, philosophical exploration of the characters and their experiences and relationships, it works. We are also granted a view of these characters from different ‘viewpoints’ almost so that it feels that we get to know them inside and out, which is also why it is so easy to feel and fear for them, especially as questions and darkness loom, and madness whispers in that dark. It also has to be noted that this wonderful characterisation is not just limited to the main characters, and the secondary characters show the same level of care and intricacy.
This, in turn, bleeds through to the plot, which is tightly plotted that it took my breath away. There isn’t a single part of this book – from the rich worldbuilding, with layers upon layers within its cultures, diversity and history, to the characters, to the clever use of time and reality and emotion to really delve into the themes at the heart of this book. Even better is that it feels completely natural, as though you’re pulled into the centre of the dream, while the words weave the story around you, unfolding the threads for you to see and pulling you along for the ride. It’s such a wonderful story-telling method, and it allows the rawness of the emotion – the exploration of darkness and light, loss and pain, loneliness and madness – to be far more than just an atmosphere, but an experience and I can’t state strongly enough that this is a book you need to experience for yourself in all its glory.
I’m glad that I gave this book a second chance, and that I could savour it properly this time – even if it feels impossible to capture the essence of this fantastic book in a review. This is certainly a book that demands that you’re open to being swept away by it, and it’s not for the faint at heart – but believe me, this is a darkness that is worth braving because Vultures is something you need in your life.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.