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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Written in Red
By Anne Bishop
Published by Penguin Group

No one creates realms like "New York Times "bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities--vampires and shape-shifters among them--who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans. 

As a "cassandra sangue," or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut--a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg's Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard--a business district operated by the Others. 
 Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she's keeping a secret, and second, she doesn't smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she's wanted by the government, he'll have to decide if she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.



Review: Written in Red is an urban fantasy with an emphasis on world-building that makes for an fascinating and tense read. On the continent of Thaisa in the world of Namid, a delicate balance is in place between the humans and the Others, the original inhabitants of the area. The Others, known as terra indigene, consist of a variety of supernatural beings such shape-shifters, vampires, and elementals. They tolerate humans on their land in exchange for human technology, but view humans as a food source more than anything and could easily destroy entire cities if they were so inclined. Humans, resentful of the power imbalance, attack the terra indigene and wind up as lunch, with possible retribution on the rest of a human city in the form of taxes. Bishop makes it very clear how scary the Others can be: no “vegetarian” vampires or woobie werewolves here. At the same time the narrative makes it easy to sympathize with the terra indigene. They, unlike the humans they must deal with, follow rules and do not attack unprovoked.

           
The tension between the supernatural and the mundane is at the heart of the novel: we follow our heroine Meg as she winds up in the middle of the Other's settlement. She adjusts to her job accepting packages in a mailroom, learns about the running of the terra indigene community and the various businesses (book store, coffee shop, etc.) and figures out her coffee pot, all while dealing with a boss and co-workers who eat people, kill with a glance, or control the elements. It’s the conflict inherent in the presence of humans around Others that makes even the smallest action significant and potentially deadly, with consequences that may affect the entire city. This omnipresent danger is made especially clear in Monty’s POV. Monty, the human police officer in charge of keeping the peace with the terra indigene  (and my favorite character), is forced to have some potentially terrifying stops at their coffee shop, trying to gain the trust of people who could drain his blood with a single handshake.

            Meg offers a unique view of the situation due to her circumstances. Escaping from her past, she finds safety in a place many would consider deadly. Her lack of worldly experience causes her to have an innocence that the Others respond to, and her urge to be useful wins her many allies among the terrifying population. She could easily have simply been a damsel in distress sort of character but Meg manages to surpass that label. Her refusal to be bullied, even by Simon, the leader of the Others, as well as the efforts she makes to take control of her life, makes her a strong character, if not in the usual sense of the word.
           
There’s also a romance, as to be expected, but it's not the main emphasis and not completely resolved in this book. Personally the slow build made me more invested in the relationship. To be honest I was leery of the romance once it became clear that was the direction the story was going: the potential that one party may eat the other and send the leftovers to the butcher shop is not an idea I find romantic. I was on board by the end however, such is the nature of character development.

The one criticism I can give the novel is that it perhaps goes on too long. I enjoyed reading about the characters but once the main threat had been identified the continued description of Meg’s back and forth to her mail room job, minor incidents that threaten her safety, and renewed vows by the Others to protect her, so on and so forth, stopped building tension and began to feel repetitive. This is only a minor complaint. When the finale did arrive it was a satisfying conclusion, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel. 

Recommended for: all urban fantasy lovers.

Four Stars.




2 comments:

Pamela D said...

Great review. I keep meaning to read something by Anne Bishop. I only hear amazing things about her books.

Jan said...

This was one of my favorite books of 2013 and you wrote a great review of it. I agree with all you said--even that it probably went on a little too long.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Written in Red
By Anne Bishop
Published by Penguin Group

No one creates realms like "New York Times "bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities--vampires and shape-shifters among them--who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans. 

As a "cassandra sangue," or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut--a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg's Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard--a business district operated by the Others. 
 Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she's keeping a secret, and second, she doesn't smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she's wanted by the government, he'll have to decide if she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.



Review: Written in Red is an urban fantasy with an emphasis on world-building that makes for an fascinating and tense read. On the continent of Thaisa in the world of Namid, a delicate balance is in place between the humans and the Others, the original inhabitants of the area. The Others, known as terra indigene, consist of a variety of supernatural beings such shape-shifters, vampires, and elementals. They tolerate humans on their land in exchange for human technology, but view humans as a food source more than anything and could easily destroy entire cities if they were so inclined. Humans, resentful of the power imbalance, attack the terra indigene and wind up as lunch, with possible retribution on the rest of a human city in the form of taxes. Bishop makes it very clear how scary the Others can be: no “vegetarian” vampires or woobie werewolves here. At the same time the narrative makes it easy to sympathize with the terra indigene. They, unlike the humans they must deal with, follow rules and do not attack unprovoked.

           
The tension between the supernatural and the mundane is at the heart of the novel: we follow our heroine Meg as she winds up in the middle of the Other's settlement. She adjusts to her job accepting packages in a mailroom, learns about the running of the terra indigene community and the various businesses (book store, coffee shop, etc.) and figures out her coffee pot, all while dealing with a boss and co-workers who eat people, kill with a glance, or control the elements. It’s the conflict inherent in the presence of humans around Others that makes even the smallest action significant and potentially deadly, with consequences that may affect the entire city. This omnipresent danger is made especially clear in Monty’s POV. Monty, the human police officer in charge of keeping the peace with the terra indigene  (and my favorite character), is forced to have some potentially terrifying stops at their coffee shop, trying to gain the trust of people who could drain his blood with a single handshake.

            Meg offers a unique view of the situation due to her circumstances. Escaping from her past, she finds safety in a place many would consider deadly. Her lack of worldly experience causes her to have an innocence that the Others respond to, and her urge to be useful wins her many allies among the terrifying population. She could easily have simply been a damsel in distress sort of character but Meg manages to surpass that label. Her refusal to be bullied, even by Simon, the leader of the Others, as well as the efforts she makes to take control of her life, makes her a strong character, if not in the usual sense of the word.
           
There’s also a romance, as to be expected, but it's not the main emphasis and not completely resolved in this book. Personally the slow build made me more invested in the relationship. To be honest I was leery of the romance once it became clear that was the direction the story was going: the potential that one party may eat the other and send the leftovers to the butcher shop is not an idea I find romantic. I was on board by the end however, such is the nature of character development.

The one criticism I can give the novel is that it perhaps goes on too long. I enjoyed reading about the characters but once the main threat had been identified the continued description of Meg’s back and forth to her mail room job, minor incidents that threaten her safety, and renewed vows by the Others to protect her, so on and so forth, stopped building tension and began to feel repetitive. This is only a minor complaint. When the finale did arrive it was a satisfying conclusion, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel. 

Recommended for: all urban fantasy lovers.

Four Stars.




2 comments:

  1. Great review. I keep meaning to read something by Anne Bishop. I only hear amazing things about her books.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was one of my favorite books of 2013 and you wrote a great review of it. I agree with all you said--even that it probably went on a little too long.

    ReplyDelete

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