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Book Review: The Wild Dead (The Bannerless Saga Book 2) By Carrie Vaughn
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Wild Dead Bannerless book banner

The Wild Dead
The Bannerless Saga Book 2
Paperback | Kindle
By Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: John Joseph Adams | Mariner Books | HMH Books
Release date: July 17, 2018

In The Wild Dead, author Carrie Vaughn delves back into the world she created in Bannerless, where in a future dystopian society the survivors must earn their keep and prove themselves worthy of a banner, which permits a household to have a child. This follow-up sees investigator Enid embroiled in another rare murder-mystery after the body of a young woman is found inside one of the far-off communities. After Enid discovers that the murdered woman was one of the “Wild” folk who live outside of The Coast Road, the name for this rebuilt society, she goes above and beyond the call of duty as well as dangerously out of bounds to try to solve the case.

The sequel opens with Enid away on what should be a quick assignment with her new, rookie partner Teeg, to resolve a simple household dispute. She’s eager to get back home, though, as her household is awaiting the imminent arrival of their baby, being delivered by her housemate Olive. It’s an immensely joyous occasion, and Enid promised to be there for it, but she still has a long way to travel back from The Estuary community, the northern-most town, which borders The Wild area. Just as she’s ready to hand down her judgment on the dispute, the young Wild woman’s body is found. Teeg thinks they should leave the matter unsolved and head home, since it doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction, but Enid is compelled to continue the probe, even if it leads her in uncharted territory.

In Bannerless, Enid was a junior partner who looked up to her mentor; now, she’s saddled with a novice who is quick to judge and slow to understand. On top of that, the citizens of The Estuary have their own internal issues to deal with, and don’t take kindly to having a murder investigation disrupting their lives, especially one for a Wild woman. But Enid is a person of strong character and good morals who wants to do what’s right, not merely what’s necessary; unfortunately, she’s alone in her endeavors.

As with the debut of the series, this new installment is a quick read that keeps you invested in Enid’s crusade. The story does stall a little bit near the beginning, as Enid and Teeg are forced to repeat their questions to the reticent and clearly secretive townspeople, who resent their presence there. But once the real investigation begins and details begin to surface, the pages just fly by. As I did from the start, I love Enid as a character and continue to see her as a beacon of hope in this post-apocalypse universe. The Wild Dead is a highly enjoyable and captivating sophomore entry in the Bannerless series.

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?

Wild Dead Bannerless book cover

FYI – A few days before its release this month, I took my review copy of The Wild Dead with me on a trip to the southwest, where my family and I visited several National Monuments. If you’ve ever been to that area of the United States, you know how desolate and untamed it can seem. While in New Mexico at the Petroglyph National Monument, I decided to do a little book photo shoot while I hiked up the Boca Negra Canyon trail (which, by the way, does not always have a clear trail, I learned the hard way!). Click on the Instagram embed below to see all of my photos of the book out in the “wild.” I even found a “wild book” bookmark at the gift shop that made for the perfect accessory. Also, I spent time on the trip with my 92-year-old grandma, who is an avid reader, and I was telling her the story of the Bannerless series and she was intrigued, so I left behind my well-traveled copy with her to read.

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