Shadow of the Vulture

Shadow of the Vulture by Regina Garza-Mitchell

As Americans move west towards their manifest destiny, they disrupt lives, steal, and murder. What happens when that brutality clashes with witchcraft and the supernatural in the small town of Soledad?

A powerful witch goes to the extreme to protect the land. A young woman weaves protective spells into clothing, but what she wants to do more than anything, is soar with the vultures. An ex-soldier accompanied by her dead friend looks for another battle to fight and will do anything to make the American invaders pay in the bloodiest ways possible. When they come together, Texas will never be the same. Power clashes between witches, warriors, brutes and innocents, and over it all hovers the shadow of the vulture.

The IndieMuse Review

Having read almost all of the Splatter Western series to date, I went into Shadow of the Vulture thinking I knew what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Regina Garza-Mitchell has thoroughly subverted those expectations and managed to deliver something truly new in this long-running series.

Hell is coming to the small town of Soledad. A battle-hardened fighter and her (un)dead friend are en route, looking for a purpose, finding it in a small community with big problems. A local gang is stirring up trouble, leaving bodies in their wake, and only an aging witch is willing to stand in their way.

A dark tale of witchcraft, war, death and magic. Shadow of the Vulture weaves multiple tales of women willing to go to any extreme to protect what is important to them.

To date, this is the seventh book in the Splatter Western series and what most of them have had in common is that, despite the mayhem and the violence, they are quite a light, fun series. We’ve had cowboy werewolves, man-eating wendigos and demon gods from another dimension. When you pick up a Splatter Western, the expectation is generally an over-the-top, faced-paced gorefest. Shadow of the Vulture takes a decidedly different tack in this regard. The splatter is still present, but it, and the story itself, is far more grounded than readers have come to expect.

This different take worked really well for me. The story was incredibly well researched and felt a lot more immersive for all the work that clearly went into making the period and the location feels very authentic and rich. Garza-Mitchell plays things very straight, focusing squarely on her characters and letting the cast move the plot along organically rather than rely on a big concept to drive the story. I feel like I connected with the characters in Shadow of the Vulture (Juana and Mariluz in particular) more strongly than I have in any other Splatter Western to date and, when the violence does come in this book, it is less gleeful and more unpleasant for the fact that it is so grounded and the stakes are so personal.

If I left with one disappointment, it would be that there wasn’t…more. At 108 pages, it is the shortest Splatter Western to date and while it makes for a lean, pacy read, there are some characters who I felt deserved more page time. Juana and Analisa are the obvious picks, both of whom are more than worthy of a full length work all their own, but others (Eva and Sarah being good examples) would have been well served with a little more backstory.

A bold new direction for the ever-dependable line of Splatter Westerns. While every entry to date has delivered big on the spectacle and entertainment factor, Shadow of the Vulture proves that the series can accommodate a more serious and downbeat tone while sacrificing nothing in terms of quality and entertainment. Bring on book ten!

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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