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Kagama -The Literaturevixen

I love reading everything from fantasy to historical romances. On a constant quest for more books to read.





Vermilion by Molly Tanzer

Vermilion - Molly Tanzer

The Adventures of Lou Merriwether, Psychopomp

Gunslinging, chain smoking, Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp, Elouise “Lou” Merriwether might not be a normal 19-year-old, but she’s too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It’s an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well… they’re not wrong.

When Lou hears that a bunch of Chinatown boys have gone missing somewhere deep in the Colorado Rockies she decides to saddle up and head into the wilderness to investigate. Lou fears her particular talents make her better suited to help placate their spirits than ensure they get home alive, but it’s the right thing to do, and she’s the only one willing to do it.

On the road to a mysterious sanatorium known as Fountain of Youth, Lou will encounter bears, desperate men, a very undead villain, and even stranger challenges. Lou will need every one of her talents and a whole lot of luck to make it home alive…




Lou Merriwether is a psychopomp ,someone who helps put ghosts to rest before they turn into wrathful spirits.Since her mother is a chinese woman and her father was an englisman she is part of both worlds and yet stuck between them.

When she is told her estranged mother Ailien has requested her help she has no choice but to go and visit her.


Her mother tells her that several young chinese men has vanished after being offered work in Wyoming. After a gruesome package is delivered to one of the missing mens mother. There is a lead - a bottle of Dr Panaceas Elixir of life.


Lou decides that since the authorities doesnt particularly care to investigate what happened to some stupid useless "chinks" she will have to go to Dr Panaceas sanatorium herself to find out the truth.

Posing as a chinese man looking for work she takes the train to Cheyenne where she meets a strange young man named Shai who is to take her on to the sanatorium.At times spooked by his at times violent and at other times sad nature,Lou comes to think of him as maybe not precisely a good person but someone who understands and doesnt judge her.


But things are never that easy as she comes to realize when she finally arrives at the Sanatorium...


Up to halfway through the book I was finding this book pretty darn great but the exact moment when this stopped being the case was not the whole character dedicated to exposition but that was when it all started to go downhill for me.

It just revealed a bit too much of what Lou was there to find out and the rest of the book was just her running around and trying to convince other people of the truth. Lou is reduced from a plucky heroine to someone who is mooning over an unrequited love interest and let down by friends.


I have to admit I was a bit confused about the ethnicity about Shai as I thought he was also chinese and wondered more than once at peoples reaction to Lou being a "chink" but not until it was explained did I get that he was darkhaired and darkeyed but not chinese.


I kept waiting for Shai to redeem himself after his horrible behavior towards Lou but he never did.He might have been way older than her but instead he turned out to be rather immature and weak.


“So, what’s your story, Lou? Why the disguise I mean, the trousers, and everything else?”


Lou shrugged; winced. “It’s not a disguise. I don’t keep a spare sock rolled up in my drawers or anything. I mean, I grew up wearing pants, you know— Chinese women often wear them, if not this style. They’re a sight more comfortable when you walk around all the—”


“No,” interrupted Shai. “I understand well enough the many virtues of pants, Chinese or American. I was asking why you wore them— American pants. I wouldn’t be asking if you were dressed like a traditional Chinese woman.”


“Oh,” said Lou, feeling more than a little self-conscious. What business was it of his? “It’s just how I am, I guess. Who I am. I mean, why are you such a dude even out here in the wilderness? It’s just how you are, right?”


“Fair enough,” said Shai, settling his derby over his face to shade his eyes from the sun.





The setting is what I would like to call the weird west and for the most part it was an interesting setting even if I am still am not on the clear with the whole sealions and bears being able to talk and run buisnesses,but I didnt mind that as much as the other things in this book.


The gender bending main character was an interesting touch but the books increasing focus on it started to get annoying when every other character is characterized by their sexual preference. I dont believe that building a character on what gender they like can exchange actual character.

Furthermore description of the hmmm lets just call it unusual hotel Lou and Shai stays at during their journey to the sanatorium had me vaguely uncomfortable. Unless you are specifically into that sort of sexual roleplay it doesnt really progress the plot its just a weird thing.


This book started out reminiscent of another steampunk book I like Shanghai Sparrow but after that specific chapter It all started to remind me of Glassbooks of the Dreameaters.


How can a book at the same time have such great writing and at the same time have the worst writing. I just dont understand.