Review of The Wild Dead

The Wild Dead (The Bannerless Saga Book 2) by [Vaughn, Carrie]


The Wild Dead

The Bannerless Saga

Carrie Vaughn

Mariner Books

July 17, 2018

Blurb: A century after environmental and economic collapse, the people of the Coast Road have rebuilt their own sort of civilization, striving not to make the mistakes their ancestors did. They strictly ration and manage resources, including the ability to have children. Enid of Haven is an investigator, who with her new partner, Teeg, is called on to mediate a dispute over an old building in a far-flung settlement at the edge of Coast Road territory. The investigators’ decision seems straightforward — and then the body of a young woman turns up in the nearby marshland. Almost more shocking than that, she’s not from the Coast Road, but from one of the outsider camps belonging to the nomads and wild folk who live outside the Coast Road communities. Now one of them is dead, and Enid wants to find out who killed her, even as Teeg argues that the murder isn’t their problem. In a dystopian future of isolated communities, can our moral sense survive the worst hard times?


So I think Carrie Vaughn’s onto something here. We have mysteries that take place in the past with detectives using limited resources or the steampunk version with little anachronisms tossed in; current mysteries encompassing police procedurals to cozy mysteries. How did Carrie Vaughn know that what we needed was a dystopian mystery series?

Last summer I reviewed Bannerless (you can read that review here) and while I loved the world-building, I was less than enamored with the mystery, which took a back seat. With The Wild Dead, however, it all comes together.

In The Wild Dead Vaughn spends a little less time  world-building, presuming that we read last year’s Philip K. Dick award-winning Bannerless and understood the environment, and more time creating an atmosphere and mystery.

Enid of Haven, whom we met in Bannerless, is a paradoxical combination of an idealistic old soul with an ever-questioning nature. She frequently questions herself and her abilities, misses her mentor Tomas, and believes in truth even at the sake of justice.

She is partnered with Teeg and warned that she may need to “rein him in” which becomes evident when he would rather take the easy way, accuse a man without proof, than work to find evidence.

While Enid and Teeg have been sent to the Estuary to look into a dispute over whether a house from the before-time should be saved or not, they stumble upon a murdered young woman who turns out to be from the wild area and not their jurisdiction. Enid, believing that it is right and kind to care about the young woman and find her murderer begins her search, which takes her in to the dangerous wild area and back again.

I found this novel intriguing on so many novels. Because Enid has very few, if any, forensic tools, she must approach the crime as an old-fashioned detective would. She watches. She puts herself in danger. She asks questions. She pretends. She gets answers.

At the same time, I presume, that Enid determined who the murderer was, I did also. And, if I had one complaint about this novel, it would be how that period right before the climax was handled. I felt like there was a hole there, even though I’d figured out “whodoneit.” Maybe it was a pacing issue.

Regardless, The Wild Dead is an extremely satisfying novel with good characterization, writing, and a mystery that will keep the reader on their toes.

Fans of dystopian novels and mysteries should enjoy this one.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Wild Dead goes on sale July 17. You can pre-order here.

If you haven’t read Bannerless yet, I encourage you to read that first. From Amazon: Bannerless.

rating: 4-and-a-half

4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies


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