From the very beginning, this book drops you into a fully formed world without much exposition. I do prefer this style of storytelling, I’ve never been a fan of info dumps, and some versions irritate me more than others. I think in most instances are more organic way to relay information without long awkward infodumps. However, that does make the reader think a bit more about what they’re reading, and it keeps an air of mystery about the world until the peices start to come together.
Theailys, the protagonist, has a bit of a strange introduction. He’s surrounded by dead bodies he doesn’t remember killing, and he’s speaking to an entity known as Faro. It’s unclear at first what exactly Faro is, but the impression is that he’s a shade/shadow/ghost kind of thing with the ability to “joins” with Thaeilys and takes over. When Faro takes over Theailys’ body it’s not uncommon at all for him to regain consciousness only to find that Faro had killed lots and lots of people.
We go from strange to even stranger as the book continues. This is a very surreal, very weird journey that feels like a dream. Because of that, I would describe this as having a sharp learning curve. The world-building is thrown at you fast and heavy, and things can get by you if you’re not paying attention to the details. Even though this is a more effort-intensive book I think it’s also greatly rewarding, especially towards the end when all the pieces start to come together.
We get to see multiple cultures through various POV’s scattered throughout the world. The Phantaxians have been cursed with a plague for hundreds of years. It may sound like a boon on its surface, but the ability to live forever and effectively be immortal isn’t as fun as it sounds when you’re bound to a mountain. If the Phantaxians leave their mountains the plague causes them to rot away. The cold preserves them, and in turn, becomes their prison.
The Phantaxian POV is Serece, and I think she was my favorite character. Serece’s chapter opens with her killing a lokyn creating a strong first impression. She’s clearly capable of self defense and thinks of the demons as “abominations” – putting her on one side or the other of this battle of demons vs clergy. She has a less than desirable home life, living with a mother that resents her. She has a ‘father’ figure in her mother’s husband, but it’s an open secret that Serece is not that man’s child. She was the result of infedelity and her real father, Phantaxis, betrayed everyone. She’s a constant reminder of that, hence the resentment. Her life of grief doesn’t stop with her mother being unkind, she has also lost a daughter and her sisters and blames herself for all of it.
The different plot threads start to weave together starting around 25% and get stronger and more clear as the rest of the book moves on. So, the first quarter was a bit slow, I had to take my time and digest what I was reading, but after that the pace started to pick up.
The dialogue could little stiff and formal in some places,”Stand. Beg nothing of our Mother lest you wound her ears. You already test her patience with your presence in this place”. Dialogue like that gives an old school fantasy feel to it, which is many readers preference over modern vernacular. That’s not to say all of the dialogue was written in that style, but it had its moments.
It took me a while to warm up to the characters. I had to see them repeatedly for me to feel like I was getting to know them enough to care. This is definitely a world building and plot heavy book at first, but then I started to get very invested in Serece and changed my tune there around 25%.
I loved the world building in this. It was expansive, surreal, dream like, and very unique. It hit on one of my favorite tropes, ancient races gone missing. Reshapers were a race that lived thousands of years ago, they built temples and haven’t been seen in generations. There’s an entity known as “Yssa”, and it’s a god like entity that lives in a place of memories and spirits. Serece was able to reach out to Yssa and she sounds like a derranged child, repeating phrases in a frenzy. “not want to hurt. no more I can do. not want not I do not want”.
There are some grammar and spelling errors here and there, but nothing so bad that it started to affect my enjoyment.
TLDR: Surreal and dreamlike, Vultures is a dark and twisted journey that will keep you guessing. A satisfying culmintion of plot threads makes it worth it in the end. Spirits, gods, ghosts, plagues, multi pov, complex, heavy world building
- Plot: 13.5/15
- Characters: 12/15
- World Building: 14/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 14/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10
Final Score: 83/100