by Molly Tanzer


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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...

From British Fantasy Award nominee Molly Tanzer comes debut novel Vermilion, a spirited weird Western adventure that puts the punk back into steampunk.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781939905086
Publisher: Word Horde
Publication date: 04/15/2015
Pages: 386
Sales rank: 521,267
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Molly Tanzer is the Sydney J. Bounds and Wonderland Book Award-nominated author of A Pretty Mouth (Lazy Fascist, 2012), Rumbullion and Other Liminal Libations (Egaeus, 2013), Vermilion (Word Horde, 2015), and The Pleasure Merchant (forthcoming, Lazy Fascist 2015). She lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and a very bad cat. When not writing, she enjoys mixing cocktails, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, experimenting with Korean cooking, and (as of recently) training for triathlons. She tweets @molly_the_tanz, and blogs--infrequently--at

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Vermilion 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Michael-Griffin More than 1 year ago
A very accomplished novel, especially for a debut. Vermilion is fun, charming and engaging throughout. Lou Merriwether brings to mind one of my all-time favorite TV characters, Calamity Jane from Deadwood. I love every character and setting here, and want to see more. Here's hoping Molly Tanzer gives us many more like this!
orringrey More than 1 year ago
When I learned that Molly Tanzer's debut novel was coming out, I was already suitably excited, as Molly is a friend and one of the best writers working in our field right now, but when she described it as "taking place in past of Big Trouble in Little China," I was all kinds of hooked, and the end result didn't disappoint. Other reviewers have certainly covered most if not all of what I'd like to say about this book, but it's fun and smart and diverse and daring and adventurous, with a world that feels at once fully-formed and begging for more exploration. If I have one complaint, it's that I wanted to see more of Lou's pyschopompery, which was just utterly fascinating from top to bottom, but with any luck this will just be the first of many adventures with Lou and company, so I'll get more in future books. Vermilion comes about as highly recommended as books can come from me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A weird steampunk western, with a great character in Lou a Chinese English ghost buster or Psychopomp. The world Molly Tanzer has created is very interesting and I can't wait to see more of . The story leaves you wanting more and I can't wait to see it. I have some of Molly ' s short works now that must be read, not in this setting but her writing is so enjoyable . If you get the chance and enjoy weird, horror, and steampunk you need to read this . Joe Parrish
Dominique More than 1 year ago
This book started out at something of a disadvantage for me because I don't like Westerns. I try really hard to like them and end up falling asleep during movies or walking away during books. So it says a lot that I was able to overcome that and not only finish the book, but enjoy it. Part of it has to do with the alternate history aspects, I think, which make for a very interesting world. The one problem I did have was the focus of the story. The good characters are the focus of everything all the way through. This actually leads to a lack of world building (we really could have used more background about the bears and the role of the monsters hunters) but also to my biggest gripe: The villains were not developed at all. We had no sense of who they were or why they were doing what they were doing. There's a big gap between how they act at one point in the book and how they act in another that needed to be bridged and was not. We're teased with potential explanations and glimpses of potential depth and then... Nothing. The strength of this book is it's exuberance. While it deals with some very dark things, it's infused with a very strong sense of humor, joy and life without falling into the traps of parody or camp. Part of it comes from the fact that all the characters are very human and very easily relatable. This book can be seen as (mostly) normal people being injected into a typical action/adventure movie. You wanna think you'd be tough, and that the character should be, but the reality is that they're not and you know it. This has the book containing action that is wonderfully testosterone free and don't end with a buff guy mysteriously without a shirt glistening with sweat while we all stand in awe of his awesomeness. For me, that is a definite plus. But in the end, taking the novel for what it is, the book is highly satisfying. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vermilion is an amazing first novel, especially given the risk taken in the early portion of the book. Tanzer puts so much effort into creating such a well realized alternative nineteenth century San Francisco that when, early on in the story, the protagonist, Lou Merriweather leaves San Francisco for Wyoming and Utah I worried that it was a mistake to leave this rich setting behind. Fortunately this just expands the magic of the world building before the onset of the main action.  As Merriweather explores the rest of the world Tanzer exposes us to more layers of this adapted mythology utilizing not just Chinese mythology and the old west but incorporating aspects of steampunk and traditional horror. I love the mix of mythology and mayhem as Merriweather attempts to take down the villain’s scheme. I hope there are plans not only for sequels with these characters, but also more stories in this setting, particularly the alternate world San Francisco. 
jenna_bird More than 1 year ago
Tanzer’s writing really pulled me in. There’s an attitude in the prose that reflects Lou and helps connect the reader to her. I’m an empathetic reader, so when Lou was frustrated, I was frustrated for her. When she was confused, I felt that confusion. It was easy and enjoyable to connect with Lou. She has a healthy amount of cynicism and sarcasm, with just the right amount of sass and stubbornness, and rounds those aspects out by being a generally good human being with a decently strong sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Lou is a strong presence on the page. There’s a lot of mystery about her, on a deeply personal level, and it’s not all unraveled for the reader. This is to say - in the same way that you can know almost everything about your best friend, there will always be a layer of mystery to them, as they are constantly figuring themselves out. Lou is faced with a lot of decisions that speak to and shape the very core of who she is. This is something I enjoyed, immensely, and I’m hopeful there are future adventures for Lou that I can join in on as a reader. Initially, I had some very strong ideas about where the story was going to go - the “what’s going on” of it all. If you read enough books, watch enough movies, you start to get ideas about where a story is going. Sometimes predictable isn’t a bad thing (and had Vermilion been predictable for me, the writing was still good enough I would not have cared). It turned out though, that I was wrong in a pretty big way! Despite this, where another story might’ve not read true to itself (I drew my conclusion based on what I thought were clues in the story), Vermilion unfolds as though this were the only path the story could have taken, and it was the most perfect one. (excerpted from my blog.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mymarginalia More than 1 year ago
I had no idea how much I needed weird westerns in my life until I read Vermilion. Tanzer's world building is superb, taking the reader deep into an alternative historical setting that might look and sound like the 19th century you've read about, but where "monster hunter" is a credible profession, dealing with ghosts is a bureaucratic process, and Bears are people too. Lou Merriwether is a compelling character, flawed and stubborn, all the more relateable for her shortcomings. Here's hoping that Tanzer explores this world further in subsequent works! 
john-palisano More than 1 year ago
We are introduced to a really fantastic character named Lou Merriwether in Molly Tanzer's awesome new book. I loved how it brought in elements of adventure fiction, weird fiction, and had a strong and nuanced female lead that was more than eye candy, and wasn't simply a traditional male character with a few female trappings thrown in. Lou has a lot going on, and that's what makes this a really fascinating read. Not only is she up against the many hazards she encounters, she's also up against some of her own issues, as well as other people's perceptions of her. Also? The settings were fantastic. I loved reading about old time Colorado, especially. Really good stuff here, and I'm looking forward to more from Lou and Molly, hopefully. 
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