Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: Vermilion by Molly Tanzer

Vermilion by Molly Tanzer

Paperback, 376 pages

Published April 2015 by Word Horde

Anyone following my blog will notice that I have been on a Word Horde kick. Ross Lockhart is one of the editor/ publishers whose stamp of approval means something to me instantly. Molly Tanzer's Pretty Mouth was a excellent collection - she is a great writer but the period setting style was not totally my thing. I knew she was a excellent writer. I am sorry it took me this long to get to Vermilion but I loved this novel. It many ways this feels made for me.

This novel may have more of a commercial set-up but it is just as excellently written as Pretty Mouth and Tanzer is quickly establishing herself as a major voice in modern weird tales. The story has a excellent franchise worthy character in Lou Merriweather. A hero both unconventional and amazingly cool and marketable at the same time. Lou is a Psychopomp in this version of the 19th century Pshchopomps dispatch ghosts and monsters. At 19 Lou steps on the scene dressed like cowboy with a set googles that give her the ability to see the dead. At the start of the story she is living in San Francisco her life split between her white father who is also a psychopomp and her Chinese mother who wants to send her on a case.

A group of Chinese workers helping in the rocky mountains to build railroads are disappearing, and Lou's mother suspects a supernatural explanation. Once in the wilderness the novel takes on a Western vibe. It is not a big spoiler to say that it involves Chinese vampires known as Geung si. So in many ways this novel is a the story of a female gunslinger in the old west meets Chinese vampires and folklore with a dash of steampunk. Yep it is all those awesome things.

The setting of old school San Francisco and the west are well drawn and add a flair to the novel. That is not the strength, the power of the book is in it's central hero. Lou is a excellent character who chews the scenes and will have most readers dying for a movie. I am thinking a Hong Kong hollywood co-production with a Kungfu movie director like Andrew Lau. How awesome would that be?

Tanzer is a major talent and Vermilion displays her skills throughout it's three hundred and seventy six pages. The world and setting are vivid the action thrilling and the story hardly ever drags. I enjoyed the fact that Lou was not a perfect badass, she had emotions, sadness and was unsure of herself at times. This novel feels like the first of many great adventures. I hope we get more.

I of course feel a kinship with Tanzer as we are both vegan and had Chinese vampires in our first novels. In a perfect world Lou Merriweather would some day have a team up comic book with Lisa Morton's Diana Furnaval who fought Chinese Vampires in her novel Netherworld. Two polar opposite characters that would be a interesting team-up. Hopefully Hollywood will discover them both and we will see a the explosion of Geung Si movies these creatures deserve.

Very cool book. I loved every page of it.

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