Conspiracy of Ravens – Lila Bowen

Wow. Just … wow. I was so glad to be able to go straight into this after Wake of Vultures. The game changed entirely at the end of that first book – is it still a cliffhanger if the main character jumps off the cliff? And here the times they just keep a–changing. Nettie determines once and for all to shed the parts of her she despises, insofar as she can, and adapts to this whole new part of her which I never saw coming.

Once again, the writing is intimate, gritty, and completely believable. Nettie’s – or rather Rhett’s loyalties are tested, his abilities are stretched and expanded, and his affections are tested. As if there hadn’t been enough changes in his life, the realization that hit him – and hit him hard – at the end of Wake of Vultures turns into the biggest change at all. It leads him to a new friend – or, well, a new companion, anyway, both reluctant mentor and counter-irritant, and to a new quest – there’s trouble surrounding a moving camp, laying track across the country – big trouble, and no one to deal with it but Rhett and his companions. So Rhett basically goes undercover to try to start its destruction from the inside.

There is at least as much action as in the first book – probably more, actually – but this is even more character-driven than that first book. Here Rhett has left behind any vestiges of femininity, as though the first shape-shifting burned it away. But he still carries a torch for his friend, and keeps finding himself in strange conjunctions with the sister of his other friend, and like other reviewers I found this a weak spot, a distraction in the plot.

But when all’s said and done it’s still a truly remarkable bit of world-building and character-building. I look forward to more.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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