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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Written in Red (Others #1) by Anne Bishop

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.

I've been a huge fan of Anne Bishop for years, starting from when I read the first three books in her Black Jewels series. Written in Blood, the first in her new Others series, has only deepened my love for her writing and storytelling.

All of the other books I've read by Bishop have had a fantasy vibe to them, but Written in Blood stands out, at least for me, as distinctly paranormal. Admittedly, I haven't read very much paranormal fiction - and most of that experience was with novels by Laurell K. Hamilton - but to me, paranormal fiction has always been synonymous with paranormal romance/erotica. While Written in Blood feels like it the series will eventually have some sexy bits, the reader never sees any and I never it never felt that the romantic threads were forced or overdone like I sometimes felt happened in other paranormal fiction I've read. Instead, the relationships in Bishop's novel - romantic or otherwise - develop organically and are quite refreshing.

I loved the variety of paranormal elements in Written in Blood. There are the standard shapeshifters and vampires, plus many more. I was especially intrigued by the characters that were "elemental." As their name implies, these characters control the elements... and turn out to be just as terrifying as the paranormal individuals that readers would traditionally assume should be feared. It was also great to see that the "standard" paranormal creatures in this book, like werewolves and vampires, were refreshed and had some interesting and unique abilities.

Adding to this book's charm is the main character and her mythology. The main character, Meg, is a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet. Simply put, blood prophets have prophetic visions when their skin is cut. Early on, the reader learns that Meg, like many other blood prophets, is considered property and her ability is used for profit. Meg, having escaped from her captors, has sought safety with the Others, who consider her in ways, kin  and in others, human (and therefore untrustworthy). I loved the interactions between Meg and the Others. It was interesting to see who accepted her right away and who did not (and, in addition, why the did or didn't).

I thoroughly enjoyed this paranormal offering from Bishop. The next book, Murder of Crows, isn't due out until 2014 (too long!!), so I'll have to get my Bishop writing and character fix by rereading other books (something I'm definitely looking forward to)!

NAL Trade, March 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780451464965, 448 pgs.


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