Marked In Flesh by Anne Bishop
Series: The Others, #4
March 8, 2016
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “On the old maps, you used to put the words, ‘Here Be Monsters.’” Her finger traced a wet curve from the strait that provided entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. She looked at Burke and O’Sullivan, and the punch of that look made Monty feel weak, even though it wasn’t directed at him…”You should put those words on maps again.”
The building war between the Others and the HFL (Humans First and Last) comes to a head when a series of violent acts against the Others and their human compatriots results in tragedy. The Lakeside Courtyard has pulled in all the humans who have become important allies and prepares for what is coming next-the Elders. The Elders are a group of ancient Others who rule the wild country and seas. They have already warned the Others that the increasing human intrusion on their lands will not be tolerated.
“We will give you some time to decide how much human the terra indigene will keep.”
Bishop continues to astound and enchant with her epic multi-layered urban fantasy series that combines the past and the present political climate to build a world brimming with dynamic individuals all fighting for survival in an arena teeming with bigotry, discrimination, and abuse. Intrigue, suspense, action, heart-break, and hints of romance all blend together as two species meet on the battlefield for dominance.
Marked In Flesh opens with a prelude of what’s to come and proceeds from there at a swift smooth pace. Bishop works to expand her already complex arc and character development. Graphic descriptions and lavish detailing draws the reader back into this world with no hesitation. A series of letters, emails, and phones calls are used as part of the narrative to draw out the various POVs of all the individuals involved. Multiple subplots intertwine with one another; emotionally ripe with tension and anticipation as the discord between the humans and the Others builds into an impressive crescendo that comes crashing down when the ultimate power steps in to demand reckoning for the HFL’s presumptuous actions.
“The lines are being drawn.”
“Yes. I hope there are enough of us standing on this side when the time come to hold that line.”
Meg Corbyn, the blood prophet who escaped her prison and found sanctuary with the Others of the Lakeside Courtyard, has grown considerably since Written In Red. Having been raised in captivity with no access to the outside world beyond what she was allowed, she has gradually come into her own. Not your usual urban fantasy heroine, her strength is her ability to act despite her fear. Though still struggling with her addiction to cut, she is now known as the Trailblazer after she was able to help rescue the other blood prophets who had been living under guise the “benevolent ownership” of various caretakers who exploited their gift for profit. She and her friends have been looking for ways for the girls to predict without cutting as each cut leads them closer to death. Using various other mediums, Meg and a few other blood prophets are discovering other means to voice the prophecy that are instinctive to them individually but the journey is not without it’s pitfalls.
More than a cut, he thought uneasily as he rolled up the part of the sheet that had blood on it. She’d been drawing with her own blood…because she needed that color.
Other settlements are also dealing with the inclusion of the blood prophets and their human allies; showing a subtle changes in the relationship dynamics as some of the Others are beginning to stop seeing the humans as prey and more as allies. Their symbiotic relationship is evolving into something more solid as these separate species are beginning to form bonds that extend beyond the simple need to survive. Friendships are being born. Three main settlements are flashed upon throughout the story, each one having a prophet of sorts whose ties to one another are developing on a more sophisticated level that could bode well for their survival.
Could these girls, these blood prophets, make connections that inked places because of their own connections to other people? Meg and Hope and known each other in the compound where they had been caged and cut so that wealthy humans could know about the future. Meg was still struggling with her own addiction to cutting, but she was the TRailblazer for the rest of the cassandra sangue, and she might have the answers.
Simon (leader of the Lakeside Courtyard) and Meg’s slow developing romance continues to flow unobstructed under the main story line but remains a strong presence as Bishop uses it to highlight the drastic changes occurring in the Lakeside Courtyard and the world. Their burgeoning friendship is one the Others watch with concern. One wrong move could spell disaster for the Others and the humans. The attraction is there on both sides but Simon is unsure how to proceed as love is not an emotion he is familiar with and Meg doesn’t quite recognise her feelings for what they are. She has no real experience in this area and her experiences so far with men have been less than stellar. Their relationship continues to evolve slowly from friendship to something deeper with small but important steps that help to guide them through this new and terrifying territory.
A man and woman, standing close together in a garden under a full moon. Except the moon was shaped like the symbol of a heart.
A varied and eclectic cast of characters interact with our protagonists, offering depth, humor, and thought-provoking insight into the world and the events taking place. New faces are introduced, expanding the scope of the lens we are looking through as they strive to find their place in the story. I particularly enjoyed the moments of doubt and questions that were thought and voiced on each side. These are hard times where difficult changes are being made to ways of life. Not something to be made not accepted on a whim.
The ending is a dramatic affair that blends humor and horror together as it brings to a close a long-running plot line and opens the door to new and exciting storylines as more Others show a deeper interest in the Lakeside Courtyard and its inhabitants. I wholeheartedly continue to recommend this series to everyone who enjoys a dark Urban Fantasy that continuously pushes past it’s boundaries. Book five-title and release date-to be announced.