June 8, 2013

Review - Written in Red

Written in Red
A Novel of the Others, Book 1
Anne Bishop

Released: March 2013

ROC, Hardcover,  433p.
ISBN: 978-0-451-46496-5

Back cover:

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut - a gift that feels more alike 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 hi 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 whether she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

I enjoyed this book a great deal, although it did take me a while to shake off the YA fiction vibe I was getting from the book, but after I immersed myself in the story I was fine.

Meg Corbyn, our young heroine, is such an innocent woman.  Having escaped her cage, and unfamiliar with the ways of the world, she somehow manages to see the good in people.  Yet, to say she is totally naive would be a great disservice to her, as Meg's life (before escaping) was not all sunshine and roses.  At first, we find Meg quite skittish and wary where Simon and the Others of the Courtyard are concerned, yet there are glimpses of temper and backbone that hint to the woman she could become.  Meg's interactions with those in the Courtyard range from curiosity to fear, and with Simon it's often both at the same time.  

Simon Wolfgard, being the leader of the Courtyard, is a tough and dominant male who takes in this human waif for no other reason than he needs to fill the position - and doesn't want to employ a certain human.  He feels as though he's made a mistake almost as soon as he's hired Meg, but for some reason, he can't seem to fire her - or eat her - but that doesn't stop him from making a complete arse of himself at times ;-D  Although he is not the most demonstrative or emotional of characters, you get a real sense of his core beliefs.  

Written in Red is mainly told from Meg and Simon's POV, although the flow is occasionally interrupted by POV from Asia, Henry and the local police detective who is trying to forge good relations with the Others.  I loved the 'otherness' of the characters, and the way that there is definitely an us and them mentality.  The mysterious Tess is a real charmer - love the hair! - and Winter and her sisters have the potential to scare the pants off everyone.  I hope to see more of their true natures emerging in the coming books.  The ponies that help Meg deliver her parcels were a nice touch, especially when their true talents are revealed.

As a big Anne Bishop fan, I did notice some fleeting similarities between the characters in this book and those of her much loved other series, The Black Jewels.  No, seriously!   Just think about it...

•  Meg Corbyn/Jaenelle Angelline - both wounded souls who find themselves in a position of power and have to deal with deadly males.
•  Simon Wolfgard/Daemon Sadi - dominant men who both wield power without thought.  Dangerous.
•  Vlad Sanguinati/Lucivar Yaslana - the seconds.  Dangerous fighters who have a lighter side.
•  Tess/Surreal - deadly women who would kill you as soon as look at you.  Very protective of those they take under their wings.

I could go on, but if you've read the Black Jewels books, you'll see what I mean.

My only problem with Written in Red was Meg's nameless, faceless enemy.  We see agents of that enemy, but there is a disconnect between his/her role in the story and the way everyone else deals with the fallout.  Not a huge problem in the grand scheme of things, and will hopefully be addressed in the following books.

The style of writing used in Written in Red is very similar to Kelley Armstrong's YA trilogy - the one with the kids that run away from the mental facility (sorry, can't think of the name).  So if you enjoyed Armstrong's series, then you should love Meg and Simon's story.

UPDATE:  Book 2, Murder of Crows, is scheduled for publication in March 2014.  Yeah!

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