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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Cry of a Cactus Wren: Requiem for a Gunfighter by Donna M. Vesely is a blend of mystery, romance, and suspense, set in the period after the Civil War, a story that is as gripping and as delightful as it is psychologically disturbing. They think she is crazy. She lives with the ghost of a padre, but her destiny is linked to one who comes from another life, a reincarnation that brings horror in its wake — the gunman. Dominica has lived the horrors in a dark region of her mind. An ex-Indian fighter reincarnates as a gunfighter and comes back to exact revenge on those who murdered his wife and unborn child in another life. But his path to redemption only happens because of his contact with the innocence of a woman — Dominica.
This is a powerful novel filled with imagery. It begins with a prologue, short and poignant, that introduces the legendary atmosphere in which the narrative takes place: “… tells of a skeleton of a man, with a Spanish blade in its back, slumped on a pale ghost horse, with sooty eye sockets and sooty nostrils and sooty mane and tail, which eerily screams as it gallops up and down Squawman's Valley.” The prose is gorgeous, lyrical, and evokes vivid images. While this is a story involving ghosts, reincarnation, and an unusual connection between the key characters, it is spiritually rich, realistic, and a story that finds echoes in the human spirit. Cry of a Cactus Wren: Requiem for a Gunfighter is action-packed, fast-paced, and riveting, a story with a strong setting and phenomenal characters. You will ache through the suspense, long for the romance to develop, and watch out for the characters as they evolve through the story.