Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Nose or cookies. Hard choice. But in the end, the cookies won.“
Meg Corbin is a cassandra sangue. A blood prophet who is able to see prophecies through the cutting of her skin. Held hostage and used for profit, Meg plots her escape from her cruel owner and finds herself in the clutches of an even bigger threat, Simon Wolfgard.
Simon Wolfgard is one of the “others.” A shapeshifter who rules his territory with sharp claws and teeth. He is not comfortable with having an unknown human in his territory, but Meg’s smell and secrets invoke his protective nature, so against his better judgment, he hires her as a human liaison for his people.
Meg soon ensconces herself into the other’s lives and hearts, but when Meg’s secrets come to light and Simon learns exactly what she is and the lengths some will go to control her again, he will need to decide if she is worth the war between themselves and the humans that she has brought to his door.
Anne Bishop has once again shown herself to be the Queen of fantasy with Written In Red. A deceptively complex urban fantasy that takes the sensitive issues of racism and abuse and wraps them in a vibrantly magical world with a realistic core. Teeming with intrigue, suspense, and hints of romance, Ms. Bishop’s world building skills continue to astound and enchant. I found myself unable to put this down once I started. While the story reads fast and the writing style easy to follow, the actual arc is complex with its multiple story lines and background information. The vivid descriptions and rich details drew me in and made me part of this world. Bishop’s writing style is like a fine wine that slowly releases its bouquet as it slides down our throat . The underlying tension ratchets up the suspense in the story, building to a climactic finale that left me satisfied but ready for the next installment.
I absolutely fell in love with Meg. She is not your usual Urban Fantasy heroine. Meg has none of the qualifications we are used to seeing. She is not a dangerous warrior, more than able to hold her own against greater odds. She doesn’t carry a magical weapon nor use a prickly attitude to warn everyone off. She is, however, courageous, forthright, and intelligent. Her greatest attribute and flaw is her caring nature. She would die to save someone she cares for. Having been raised in a secluded lifestyle with only pictures and lessons to teach her of the outside world, she is human in birth only. She has an innocence to her that gives this story a bit of a YA feel. She had me laughing with some of her reactions and the decisions she makes, trying to adapt to her new life and fit in with those around her.
Simon was a genuine treat to get to know. He is quite a surly and grumpy wolf. Meg appeals to him on many levels yet he is unable to rationalize it in human terms, so he is put out by what he cannot explain. Bishop’s take on shapeshifter culture is unique and unexpected. Bishop takes great pains to integrate their hierarchy, thought and speech patterns into the story. Especially concerning humans.
“It was so much easier when all we wanted to do was eat them and take their stuff.”
The others are just that; another species. Shapeshifters. Animals first with the ability to shift to human. They look at the world and its human inhabitants through the eyes of predators. Yet, there are sparks of humanity in them; more so in some than others. Due to their predatory nature, they choose to live in their own areas with limited interaction with humans. This is definitely for the safety of humans.
Meg’s interludes with the others is interesting, scary, endearing, and heartfelt at times. They are predators and it shows. Humor and horror walk hand in hand as Meg gets to know everyone and becomes an important part of their lives. In here we meet many secondary characters, both supernatural and human, who are all rich in personality and emotion. Their development and inclusion into the storyline is so flawless and smooth, I soon became involved in all of their lives. Sam has to be the most adorable (with the horses coming in a close second) and I both laughed and cringed at some of his and Meg’s adventures. Meeting the seasons was enlightening and vampires become even scarier when described by Bishop.
While there is a attraction between Simon and Meg, Bishop doesn’t push for an instant romance. The differences between Meg and Simon are just too great right now to allow for that and I don’t believe either of them quite understand the concept or even the emotion of love beyond being protective of a friend. Their attraction builds slowly as they get to know one another and learn to first trust, then become friends. It will be interesting to see where Bishop takes them in the series.
He kissed her forehead and found the act pleasing for its own sake. And, he admitted as he licked his lips, it was enjoyable for other reasons. Meg wasn’t biteable, but he really did like the taste of her.
There were a few aspects I would have enjoyed seeing more of. Meg’s life before running away. Her reasons for cutting herself and the emotional and physical responses behind it are extremely interesting as were her flashbacks to living in almost slavery. I would have also liked to see more of the villain who held Meg all those years.
The ending is a dramatic, bloody affair that evolves the others from their previous way of life as they give way to their true nature and show us all what happens when one of their own is threatened. I wholeheartedly recommend Written in Red to everyone who enjoys a dark humorous Urban Fantasy that focuses more on the world building and plot lines rather than romance. Word of warning, you will race though this book and want more but unfortunately, the next installment (Murder of Crows) doesn’t release till March of 2014. You have been warned.
Overall Rating: A-