Book Review: Vultures

Banner pic for Vultures gook tour with cover image and reading "Luke Tarzian, Vultures, Book Tour Feb 7th - 13th.

Today I bring you an encore performance of the Vultures tour hosted by Storytellers On Tour! That’s right…the band had left the stage but you stuck around hoping there might be more. And your devotion paid off because today I give you one last review from this epic tour.

Ok…in reality this is a non-sanctioned encore performance because I got behind on my review due to work and an ice storm and then I got sickly, and I couldn’t get it posted on my scheduled date. But I promised everyone involved I would get it done as soon as I could and here it is. After reading the review please be sure to scroll down for more information about Luke Tarzian and where you can find the book and a giveaway. And though the tour is already over be sure to check the tour schedule for other reviewer sites to read what they had to say. The giveaway is U.S. only of two paperback copies of Vultures that as of the time of my post still has a few hours left in it, so be sure to enter for a chance to win.

Now, on with the show…

The Review

You know a book is good when at any point you set it down and ask yourself “WTF?” When a book messes with my mind a bit, when I have to stop and ponder it a while, when I have to ask myself how did all that fit together…that’s usually a book I love. Sometimes it means a book is bad and that the author did a horrible job with plotting the narrative, but usually it’s a sign of a book that is working on multiple levels to make me think and to move me. Vultures by Luke Tarzian is one of those WTF books that left me wondering what was going on, that shifted my thoughts around, and all the while managed to keep me engaged every step of the way.

Cover image of Vultures book cover.

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.

Book Blurb

What I liked

  • WTF Did I Read
  • Character Driven
  • Dark Fantasy

WTF did I read? That was my overwhelming thought every time I picked up Vultures. This is a book that plays on the readers mind in a myriad of ways. There’s just so much to it I don’t think I can give it justice in this review. It’s a very surreal psychological fantasy, with serious depth in its world building and characterization. Surreal and psychological…I feel like that’s an understatement. There is just SO MUCH going on in the narrative that is slowly revealed; a drip drip of hints and information that help you to slowly put the pieces together. I mean the basic plot is clear and presented very early on. You know where the story is going. But it’s all the detail of how the story got to its current point, all the hidden secrets and revelations about things even the characters are none the wiser about that make Vultures a compelling read.

It is evident Tarzian put a lot of effort into creating the world of The Shadow Twins series. There is layer upon layer of history and possibility, of what was and what may be, a complex weave of detail that isn’t all explained or shown outright. It’s a book that trusts the reader A LOT to put pieces together as more and more is revealed about the world, its peoples, the characters, and the narrative timeline. To do this Tarzian moves through time, past and present, and at times blends the two. At times I wondered what was really happening, what was real, or if much of it was all an illusion.

Vultures is very much a character driven story. There is action sure, but its the characters and their development that take center stage. And soon you realize that some of the characters are more than you expected…as in perhaps more than one person at the same time. You quickly begin to wonder are they possessed? Are they multiple people in different timelines? Something else? This kind of characterization runs the risk of getting very messy, very quickly, but Tarzian keeps a tight control over it all and drops hints and details at just the right times to keep the reader in the story and not get lost.

Vultures is also a very dark fantasy. There’s a little gore to be sure, but that’s not really what I mean. It’s the exploration of themes of regret, grief, and pain and the skillful way Tarzian probes their depths that make the darkness stand out. The world in which the narrative is set is on the darker side to begin with. It’s a world at war with demons. That already sets a tone and feel that is less than cheery. The war and the demons are never out of view. On top of that Tarzian has acknowledged the people living in such a world would struggle with issues we might consider seeing a counselor for. Each of the characters in the novel have suffered and continue to suffer. Each has serious regrets about actions in their past. Each is suffering immensely from grief. And each one experiences a level of pain from that regret and grief that they cannot numb or heal. As they slowly learn more about the past and about their own being these themes intensify and they must contend with them or be vanquished. Much of the character development in the book is wrapped up in how they become aware of and deal with these issues. It is an aspect of the novel that is really well done.

What I Struggled With

  • WTF Did I Read

Ok, this isn’t really fair and I admit that here. I really enjoyed the “what is going on?” aspect of the whole thing. There wasn’t really anything I personally didn’t like about this book. But I recognize some readers might struggle with the WTF nature of the book and I want to mention it here. As I said above it is complex, it isn’t wrapped up in a nice neat package with a bow on top and handed to the reader. It is instead doled out incrementally and you don’t start at the beginning. As I also noted above this book trusts the reader to put many of the pieces together as they read, and as such the reader has to trust the author to deliver. Tarzian DOES deliver, but I know there a many readers out there who just don’t like this kind of narrative. That is fine. We all like what we like and dislike what we dislike. Just be forewarned if you don’t like not knowing what really is going on for oh…most of the book you may not enjoy this read.

Overall Thoughts

I really, really enjoyed this read. I’d seen other reviewers talk about it an kept kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I could kick myself again. It is dark, complex, and well crafted. The whole time I was trying to piece together what was going on and what was “real” within the story and at no time did I want to give up and set it down. Tarzian does a fantastic job developing the characters, their motivations, and their being. The word building was similarly intricate and deep. The exploration of theme and feeling helped wrap and bind it all together. I fell into the story and like the characters themselves I wanted to dig deeper and discover the truth behind it all. I’m still sitting here trying to wrap my head around the conclusion, what it means, when it occurs within the narrative, and how it might impact the next book in the series. Tarzian has found a new fan and I’ll definitely be reading the prequel novella The World Maker Parable before the year is out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Author: Luke Tarzian
Series: Shadow Twins (#1)
Publisher: Indie/Self-published
Published: May 31, 2019
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 346 (print)


Book Links

You can find out more about Vultures or purchase a copy at the Goodreads and Amazon links below…

Image of Vultures book by Luke Tarzian viewed from a side angle.

Author Info

Photo image of author Luke Tarzian with dog.

Luke Tarzian was born in Bucharest, Romania until his parents made the extremely poor choice of adopting him less than six months into his life. As such, he’s resided primarily in the United States and currently lives in California with his wife and their infant daughters. Fascinated by psychology and the work of Edgar Allen Poe, and inspired by his own anxieties, his character-driven fiction functions as a meditation on emotion, most commonly grief. His debut novel, Vultures, introduced as a surreal, demon-ridden world where dreams are sometimes more than dreams and magic, memories, and misery are heavily entwined. Vultures is the first book in the Shadow Twins trilogy.


Book Tour Schedule

The tour is already over but that doesn’t mean you can’t check out what the other blogs and instagramers had to say. Be sure to check out their sites for their takes on Vultures and whether they had the same experience I did.

Banner image of Vultures Book Tour showing book cover along with dates and blogs that are posting on said dates.

Book Giveaway

Book Giveaway Banner. "Storytellers On Tour Giveaway. Enter To Win A Paperback of Vultures By Luke Tarzian (US Only)

As of the time of my post there is still about 10 hours left in the Vultures book giveaway so be sure to enter for a chance to win one of two paperback copies! This is a U.S. giveaway only.

One thought on “Book Review: Vultures

  1. Pingback: Cover Reveal: Vultures Hardcover | Off The TBR

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