Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Written in Red coverAs 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.

It’s not every day I read a book I like so much I don’t want to start another book, because I want to keep living in the world of the book I just read. Written in Red, first novel of The Others, was one of those books. I thought this book was pretty cool because in this world, which parallels the one we live in, humans are not the top of the food chain. This isn’t really new, but the fact that they KNOW they are not the top of the food chain was new (at least to me). The Others, or terra indigne, own the land in Thaisia, which they “allow” the humans–who they consider clever meat–to live on. At least, until they piss them off and then the Others just eat them, or find other creative ways to use their powers to kill them. Very creepy. In large towns, the Others live in places called Courtyards where humans are generally not allowed except for a few stores. Others know humans are intrigued by them, but they have no interest in developing relationships with them. That changes in at least one Courtyard, when Meg Corbyn stumbles into Howling Good Reads, bookstore owned by Courtyard leader Simon Wolfgard, and gets hired as the new Human Liaison.

Meg is a blood prophet, considered property by the Controller. She risked everything by escaping the Compound, and risked her life again by taking the job in a Courtyard, where she believes she will be safe because human law does not apply. The Controller educated her enough to be able to understand the prophetic visions she sees, but not enough to do anything for herself. Meg has to work hard to figure out not only how to take care of herself, but live with creatures who may look human, but aren’t anything like her. It is this very naivete that helps Meg survive. She is afraid of the Others, like any other human who knows they could be lunch at any second. But as she learns how to exist on her own, she comes up with creative ideas no “normal” human would even consider, and her unusual ideas and positive attitude help endear her to the hearts of the Others she lives with. I loved Meg Corbyn, and wanted to be her friend. In her place, I would not have had her courage, and I certainly wouldn’t have bought the Wolves dog beds to keep them happy, or put a Wolf cub on a leash to take him for walks.

I liked the way Anne Bishop portrayed The Others in this novel. I would love to know what other kinds of shifters there are, in addition to the Wolves, Bear, Coyotes, Crows and Hawks that live in this particular Courtyard. I tend to think vampires that can turn into smoke are a little weird, but they were so scary in this novel I didn’t mind. The way the Others characters would so casually talk about eating humans would give me chills. In addition to the “standard” supernatural creatures, this book also had Elementals. My favorite part of the Elementals was their steeds, ponies who controlled elements as well, like Thunder and Lightning. And then there was the mysterious Tess, who no one is sure about other than she is very powerful and frightening. All of these characters were interesting and exciting, and I’m already looking forward to reading more about them.

Everything about this book was excellent. I am very excited to read the next one. The expected publication is March 2014. I’ll be first in line at the library to read it when it comes in.

Happy reading,

-Branwen

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