Written in Red (The Others, book 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.
Ohhhhh, yes. You'll have what I'm having. Because Bishop has always been magic with dark fantasy and humor. When I heard she had started up an Urban Fantasy series I was nervous as to how her style would translate over. Plus, for a while I thought it was a young adult series. Bishop is an author I can't ever see doing young adult. After my YA fears where laid to rest I got curiouser and curiouser. It wasn't until some readers expressed that they loved the fresh new world that I took the series seriously. Especially as the praise came rolling in. This isn't an alternate earth, this is a Fantasy Realm and Bishop is a booking boss of creating them. However, the realm she has created definitely falls into Urban Fantasy.
Welcome to Namid a realm where the Terra Indigen (AKA earth natives), or The Others, rule. Humans were more of an after thought when Namid gave birth to all the crazy beings of the world. There are parts of the world that humans have, but much like our world they went exploring across the vast seas to settle in new places and pioneer to new lands. One such place is Thaisia. Humans are not at the top of the food chain, oh no-no-no. Settling any new human territories is hard, and often bloody, work. Humans basically rent the land from the Others, except for actual human owned areas, from the Others.
The Others and humans have never meshed well and Bishop does a wonderful job of showing how human prejudice can kill and that humans forget all to easily. Dooming themselves to repeat the past. In the modern “now” of Thaisia the humans rent the land, pay for water, and resources. If the Others decide that the humans have wronged them, or just want the land back, they can take the land back or bring in new humans. This usually involves death. The Others have no problem eating humans. In fact most of the Other still consider them part of the editable chain. There's Terra Indigene, varieties of shape shifters. Sanguinati, which are some really cool versions of vampires. Elementals which sounds exactly like their name, beings that make other Others nervous.
Then there's the Cassandra Sangue. Bringing me to our lead Meg Corbyn, who happens to be a Cassandra Sangue. A Blood Prophet. Cassandra Sangue are humans that are a bit more Other, able to see prophecy by cutting themselves. Bishop takes the a twist on the basic idea of Greek Mythology and the seer Cassandra twisting it for Namid in a way that is just too pleasing. Like all of Bishops creations she adds a twist of darkness. Showing what happens when humans take care of people who need “help from themselves” and that good intentions go bad fast if there’s a prophet to gain. Meg has never lived out in the real world. She's given images of what things look like and strange classes that are chilling. Her caretakers sell cuts to people with enough money so they can get a glimpse into the future.
I don't want to give it all away but Blood Prophets are a big part of this book and it's chilling how close to home the injustices done to them are. Meg finally has a chance to escape and when readers join in Meg is still on the run looking for a safe haven. Meg is truly a unique and brave character. She's not a warrior woman we’re accustom too from the genre, but she has heart and courage that most UF leads seem to lack. Having a smart mouth is fun, but can get old fast and I enjoyed Meg’s innocence and clever wit.
Written in Red is not just told from Meg's POV. There's a whole list of characters from villains, to a number of the Others, and different humans. Bringing even more of Bishop's magic sauce, the ability to show what motivates each character and their drive. You may not agree with them, but you understand them. Simon Wolfgard is an animal shifter and the main male character POV. Through his eyes and many of the Others readers can gain an understanding for how they see humans and why the Others feel the way they do about them. Which left me at times very conflicted as I saw humans as the bad guys. Where mob mentality would cause the masses to join in human fear creating even more problems for themselves. Their own prejudices blinding them to the fact that they were the ones lynching themselves. The few “good” humans help to balance things out and while they helped it reflects too much on how things in societies can go wrong so fast.
There's no way I can can truly explain how amazing The Others is. Bishop is at the top of her game. Very few Epic Fantasy authors can effortlessly make the jump to a new genre, even if it has fantasy in it's description. The world of the The Others is dark, horrifying, and anyone could get eaten. Which is what truly makes the moments of light heartedness, kindness, and humor so wonderful. Some readers may not enjoy knowing what's going on with other characters. However, it's a huge part of Bishop's writing and it weaves a flawless story. Epic Fantasy readers won't mind it one bit if they're jumping in on this series for Bishop. Urban Fantasy reader may grumble, I know a few other series made it seem so tiring. However, have faith. This is the kind of raw story that readers have been waiting for. The Others shows off what it is about Urban Fantasy that makes it such a hot commodity right now. Which is a good thing since the genre has been slowing down. Just read it! It's well worth tossing aside doubts and taking the chance.
Sexual Content: Sex, violence about sex, hints of rape, sexual humor, and dark material. You’ll need to enjoy realism and dark things to fully respect it.
5/5- Fabulous, a beautiful obsession!
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