Written in Red: review

March 5, 2013 2013, 4.5 star books, crossover adult title, Wendy, werewolves 82

Title: Written in Red
(The Others #1)
Author: Anne Bishop
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Release Date:
March 5, 2013
Publisher: NAL
Age Group:  Adult
Source: Finished copy from publisher

It takes a lot to interest me in starting an adult urban fantasy series these days, so I was a bit hesitant when Written in Red by Anne Bishop landed on my doorstep. It turned out to be a happy surprise, however, because it ended up being a fantastic read.

Meg Corbyn is on the run. As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, she is able to see the future when cuts are made on her skin. This is a painful process in many ways, and she’s desperate to free herself from those who have been profiting from her gift her whole life.  She soon encounters Simon Wolfgard, a snarly, suspicious shapeshifter who takes her under his wing despite his better judgment.

What I loved: I liked Meg as a protagonist, and her attempts to fit into her new surroundings were well-written, particularly the subplot involving Simon’s panicked, endearing nephew Sam. The secondary character are distinct and memorable, particularly the reticent Tess, who just might be more than she appears. Simon is fiercely protective of those he holds dear. And there are short but thrilling action scenes with spectacularly awesome deaths. I admit to being a little bloodthirsty, but really–I was wriggling on the edge of my seat as I was reading some of those scenes!

This book also has one of the most interesting depictions of werewolf culture that I’ve ever read. The way they interact with each other, the hierarchy, the thought patterns and behavior impulses–all these were well-thought out and integrated into the story, and were both a little scary and endearing in turn. These shifters are primed for action and much more in touch with their animal side than their human one.

“You want us to save any meat for you?” Blair asked.

He wasn’t human. Would never be human. “I want the heart. I’ll come by for it later.”

When Meg was asleep.

But these wolves also aren’t above some creature comforts now and then, and can also be coaxed with cookies. :D 

A few things that could have been a little better: the villains could have been more complex. The strutting, on-the-make Asia Crane appears often, and yet she’s more of an annoyance than a real threat. After such a long build-up, the climax might’ve been more drawn out. Meg’s blood prophecies are pretty cool, so I would have enjoyed seeing more of that. And that cover–oh sweet mercy, that cover should be so much stronger.

I enjoyed this book so much, however, that those things didn’t even matter in the end when there’s great world-building, humorous dialogue, and genuinely touching moments here and there. I also liked that the book didn’t fall into predictable PNR/UF patterns of relationship behavior between Meg and Simon, even though there’s clearly an attraction. The way they get to know each other happens gradually, and it’s going to be so interesting to see where their story goes in the next installment.

All in all, a strong start to a great series. If you’re a YA reader who would like to try more adult crossover titles, this might work for you as long as you know it’s not written in a wham-bam instant gratification kind of way. And if you’re an urban fantasy fan, you have to check this out. I loved it–I hope you will, too!

This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

82 Responses to “Written in Red: review”

  1. Denise Berube

    This looks like an interesting read, I enjoy Urban Fantasy and this is certainly a different twist of seeing the future by cutting yourself, very compelling.

  2. Small Review

    I’m so happy you loved it! I love love love Anne’s Black Jewels trilogy in that re-read them every few years kind of way (just the first three, the series kinda goes on beyond its expiration date but it wraps up nicely after the first three). I’m very happy to see that some of the things I loved most about that series you mention here, like world building, hierarchy, etc.

    I don’t usually read this genre, but I think I’ll have to make an exception for Anne Bishop, especially considering what you had to say about the book. Thank you!

  3. Jolene and Family

    I really love Urban Fantasy but it’s been awhile since I started a series that really hooked me! I think this sounds fantastic and am shocked this is the first I am hearing about it! I can’t wait to get started on this! Thanks for the great review

  4. silverdragon

    I love Anne Bishop so I was dying to read more from her. Seeing all these reviews before I got to read the book was making me crazy! Now that I’ve read it I’m so happy and sad at the same time to have to wait to know the continuation. I do not read much Urban Fantasy anymore because it has been disappointing but this one makes me want to read more again. One sad point for my book collection as to be the cover.. Such a wonderful book and such a weak cover.

  5. Quinsque

    This book is already on my to-read shelf and your raving review just made me anticipate reading this more! I like how the blood prophet concept is new and refreshing, which is why I want to read it in the first place~

    (Yes, I agree with you that the cover could have been better @_@)

  6. Shannelle Chua

    I agree about how the cover could be so much stronger. Maybe with more of a splash of color or a bit more red.

    I’m not into vampires, and I accept werewolves a little, but I admit that it’s a total turn-down for me if I hear a book’s about those creatures, but maybe this one would be ok. And you certainly listed a lot of great points that you liked which I would most certainly appreciate.

  7. AllieDurr

    I am quite the fan of werewolves. I have the first of The Black Jewels series. Love that she’s writing YA.

  8. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    I tend to avoid werewolves (and zombies — I know, that makes me the exception these days!), but your review make this sound really intriguing anyway. And after all, I tended to avoid vampire books, too, until A Discovery of Witches, and that book blew me away, it was so amazing. So… I’m putting this on my list of books to think about, and we’ll see!

  9. Lexxie Lin

    Oh, you got me at ‘different werewolves’! This sounds like a great read. Even if I agree in some ways about starting a new series, sometimes, it’s really worth it.

    I have added this to my TBR :)

  10. Alexis

    This sounds cool! I’m excited to read it! Werewolves have always been very intriguing to me.

  11. A Canadian Girl

    I might check this one out, Wendy, based on your recommendation. I haven’t read too many adult novels but this one seems pretty clean in terms of the romance. Lol, I can be surprisingly bloodthirsty too :)

  12. bebecald

    The cover isn’t entirely Eur catching, but based on your review it sounds like something I need to get my hands on soon! Definitely going on my to-read shelf.

  13. Christina

    “I enjoyed this book so much, however, that those things didn’t even matter in the end when there’s great world-building, humorous dialogue, and genuinely touching moments here and there”

    That is exactly how I feel about a lot of the books I rate 4.5. Some of them are definitely nowhere close to being a perfect book, but I just love the characters and the writing so much that I can’t find any fucks to give about the lack of plot or other weaknesses. Character’s what I need. Everything else is secondary.

    • Wendy Darling

      I can forgive a lot of things if other things are done well–and really, I didn’t even notice most of the stuff I quibbled about until after the book was finished. Very few books are perfect, it’s enough for me that they are entertaining and satisfying in some way.

  14. Kim (YA Asylum)

    That cover is gorgeous and I love the title, but it does take a lot for me to start an adult series. The ones I’ve committed to have always ended up disappointing me in the long run (I gave up on the Sookie Stackhouse books about two books ago, it just stopped being interesting). But your review has convinced me. I’m going to have to pick this book up. I’m not a big werewolf person, but I’m open to that changing. Great review :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I never could get into the Sookie books, Kim, although granted I didn’t try very hard–I think the cartoony font just turned me off, hah.

      Let me know what you think of it when you get around to reading this. I love werewolf books when they’re well done, and this one certainly is one of those that takes the time to explore pack behavior, etc. well. Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Christy @ Love of Books

    Oh how interesting! I knew the author sounded familiar. She wrote the Black Jewels series. I only read the first 3 books of that series, but really liked her writing. I may have to try this one! Great review, Wendy. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Apparently everyone has read Black Jewels except me! I need to crawl out from my cave every now and again. :) You read this, I’ll try those.

  16. LisaFicTalk

    Love Love Love this review, Wendy!

    I really need to get a copy of this since I plan to read the latest in the Mercy Thompson series soon! And when that’s over I’ll need something in the UF realm to sink my teeth into because I always tend to stay in that genre after reading about Mercy. My Werewolf fix must be satisfied! hahah.

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah yes, if you’re a fan of Mercy and shapeshifters I’m pretty sure you’ll love this! I had no idea you were such a bi shifters fan. ;) Werewolf lovers unite!

  17. The Night Bookmobile

    I haven’t had the greatest luck with adult urban fantasy either. But I’m always on the look out for snarky books. Also not falling into the same cliche romance trope is a plus.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m kind of rethinking “snarky”–the book is unexpectedly funny in parts, but I think I should replace that word since sarcasm isn’t really the majority of the humor. Hmmm. But it definitely kept me laughing (when I wasn’t cringing slightly) and the relationship is definitely not cliched.

  18. Vegan YA Nerds

    I have to admit that these days I just cannot be coaxed into reading much adult fic (even with cookies!) but, I do take note when someone says that they feel the same but ended up enjoying an adult book. This does sound good and I think I prefer adult paranormal to YA paranormal.

    • Wendy Darling

      You have more willpower than werewolves?! Heh. I read mostly YA too, but every once in awhile it’s nice to read an adult book as a change of pace. I find genre books an easy transition for the most part.

    • Wendy Darling

      You are usually the one recommending UF to me, so I’m glad I get to recommend one to you for once! :) I’m pretty sure you’d enjoy this, Melliane.

  19. Molli Moran

    Gotta say, I am a HUGE fangirl for Anne Bishop. I read her Black Jewels trilogy about once a year (and I’m overdue,) and I’ve read most of her other books, with the exception of this one, and the most recent Ephemera novel. There’s just SOMETHING about her writing, and her storytelling, the way she weaves worlds and characters together that makes her books irresistible to me.

    That said, I’d shied away from reading any reviews of this one. I was really let down with the latest Black Jewels book (imho it’s a series that’s gone on TOO long) so I was on the fence about Written in Red, even though my heart is going “READ It!” But I trust y’all’s reviews, so I wanted to see what you thought.

    (Word, the cover is terrible. Her covers are usually SO much better.)

    I’m really glad you liked the world and the shifters. It’s something new for her, and I tend to trust Bishop, so I thought her take on the werewolf genre would end up being pretty neat! And the characters sound good. I’m pleased with the rating! It’s awesome that others are enjoying her books.

    I tend to read her books in a haze, so it’ll be interesting to read this one now that, as a blogger, I’m reading more critically! I’ll have to keep an eye out for the quibbles you mentioned.

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • Wendy Darling

      I don’t know how I haven’t read Black Jewels yet! Well, I do know–I have a hit or miss relationship with high fantasy, but I really dig this author’s writing style, so she may be one of the exceptions for me. And I have lucked out with a few fantasy books I’ve tried in the past year or so.

      It is annoying when series drag on too long, though, so that one you really enjoyed becomes a disappointment. Maybe the switch in genre and fresh characters will invigorate your interest again. :)

  20. Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    An awesome and different concept I haven’t read before. Her gift coming at such a painful price and the werewolf addition is all very intriguing. I love when a book is so good that you can overlook the things that did bother you. Adding this one to my list. Thank for you sharing and bringing this one to my attention. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      The worldbuilding and set-up are very original, Sara–and really, the few things that I pointed out really didn’t even bother me that much. I’m so glad you’re going to give this a shot! Definitely very different from anything else out there.

  21. Bookish

    Thanks for the review, this has been on my wishlist since I first heard about it and I’ve liked/loved most of her other books so may have to buy it this weekend!

    • Wendy Darling

      Hooray! I’m glad you’re going to get yourself a copy. :) Apparently I need to give her other books a try, too. A few of my friends whose taste I trust have recommended them highly.

  22. Amy

    This is the first I have heard of this, but it sounds fantastic. I love werewolf books. Any shifter books actually. I actually used to read a lot of adult UF and haven’t really read many lately so this sounds like a perfect book to get back into them. Great review!!

    • Wendy Darling

      I had never heard of it until it randomly showed up too, Amy–but I’ve noticed a few other reviews pop up that are similarly raving!

      Shifter books are AWESOME when they’re done right. And I bet you’d love this one. :)

  23. Nikki

    Oh Wendy, you really know how to capture a girl’s heart when speaking of bloodthirst and non-traditional werewolf culture… haha! I’ve been so bogged down with the traditional YA fanfare that something a bit darker and more edgy is needed. I have a feeling Written in Red will fit the bill.

    • Wendy Darling

      EXCELLENT. Not everyone has bloodlust, hee hee, but this book will appeal to those who do.

      I definitely have to take breaks from YA every now and again to read something more adult, too. I hope you find the same escape in this book that I did!

    • Wendy Darling

      Hm, no–the overall design is the same, although I’m always tweaking and adding things here and there. :) But thank you, I’m glad you like the overall aesthetic!

  24. Sam

    Awesome deaths, you say? I don’t know why that has me eager to pick this up now, but it does! Maybe I’m a little bloodthirsty myself. ;) I am planning to squeeze in some adult books soon, so I’ll definitely have to add this one to the list. Great review, Wendy!

  25. starryeyedjen

    Eeek! This sounds wonderful, Wendy! And if a book was a pleasant surprise for you, it will surely be an epic read for me. (I’m pretty easy to please most of the time. Lol.) And new werewolf culture? Definitely count me in!

    • Wendy Darling

      Heeeeyyyy, are you saying all my pants are cranky pants?!

      But I’m pretty sure you’d love this, Jen. I look forward to seeing if I’m right. ;)

  26. Bookworm1858

    I don’t read a lot of adult or UF novels but this one does sound very interesting especially in regards to the blood prophesying. I do hope there is some romance as I really like stories with a good romance.

    • Wendy Darling

      The blood prophecies are very cool, Bookworm–her visions are affected by the depth of the cuts as well as whether there’s some there to absorb the words of her prophecy. I’ve never read anything quite like it.

      As for romance, yes there’s the beginnings of romance there, as well as a lot of push and pull between Simon and Meg. It’s slow to build, but definitely there. I tend to like my UF with some romance too, and I liked what I saw here. I think we’ll see more of their relationship in future books.

  27. Danielle Romero

    I love UF so I will have to check this novel out. I’m always looking for new books to read and I love the cover. I know I shouldnt but I do judge by covers and this one is a win! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Ohh, clearly you have to get ahold of this soon then! :) And hah, I’m not a huge fan of the cover, but I’m glad you like it. I do like the wolf, though–I just wish she at least had a better hairdo. ;)

  28. Candace

    Oh wow, I suddenly, just now, realized this was written by Anne Bishop. Suddenly it has become a must read to me! But your review definitely helped! I’ll have to watch for this one!

    • Wendy Darling

      Yes it is! So you’re a big fan, huh? I was surprised to find so many GoodReads friends were fans of her work, she was on my radar but not too highly–but she definitely is now. :) Hope you enjoy this, Candace.

  29. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I don’t really read adult UF but I like that this one has such a unique spin on werewolves! I’m always looking for a fresh take on the same old paranormals so that is definitely a welcome part of the story. It also sounds like it has some great action which is awesome too. Happy to see that even though you were a bit wary of this one when it showed up, it ended up working out pretty well for you. Fabulous review, as always!

    • Wendy Darling

      Definitely great action and a fresh take on things, Jenni–the story itself is pretty straightforward, so it’s really the worldbuilding, characters, and mythology that carry things through. :)

  30. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    I will for sure keep this one on my radar! I love a well developed werewolf mythology (as everyone is saying) and the fact that the MC is a blood prophet is really fascinating, although yikes! I will probably hold off on this one until more books are released however, because I find that I do better with UF when I can read them in several book chunks. But it means a lot that you enjoyed this one so much, Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      I know, the idea of cutting yourself makes me wince. But man, if you’re into werewolf mythology, you have to pick this up sometime, Lauren. I understand about wanting a few books at once, though. But I will say that this does not end on an annoying cliffhanger or with all kinds of dangling emotional threads, it’s a pretty complete story–there will just be more stories to tell in the future. :)

  31. Andrea @The Bookish Babes

    Oh, excellent! I’m always looking for a new adult UF read, but am wary because they usually turn into looooong series that require a huge commitment. I don’t think I’ve ever read about blood prophets, and they sound so cool!
    Thanks for bringing Written in Red to my attention!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ohh Andrea, I think you’d like this! The blood prophecies are REALLY cool, and feels real and dangerous. I hope you get a chance to try this out soon!

  32. Alise (Readers In Wonderland)

    I’ve only read one adult urban fantasy and was pretty impressed with it. This sounds like the werewolf aspect is amazingly hashed out, not just thrown together like it would be in YA. I think I would enjoy the aspects you mentioned-particularly the hierarchy. I’ll have to check this out when I’m feeling a little tired of YA! Great review.

    • Wendy Darling

      I LOVE werewolf lore when it’s done well, and it’s usually just so-so. I really liked how in touch these wolves were with their animal sides, so if that intrigues you, it’s definitely worth checking out. Thanks Alise!

  33. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Cookies always work for me, too. I can’t wait to read this one (it’s coming!!). Love that the werewolf culture is different than we’ve seen before. I’m so on this!!

    • Wendy Darling

      Right? What evil person would not be tempted by cookies?! I’m glad a copy is on its way to you, can’t wait to hear what you think!

  34. therewerebooksinvolved

    I’m a YA reader AND a big UF fan – I’m thinking I should definitely check this one out. The cover could definitely use work, but I actually like finding the gems in less-than-stellar packages. ;)

    • Wendy Darling

      It sounds like a must-read for you for sure! And yeah, I wish the cover art were more appealing, since that’s what encourages people to pick up a book so often. But I like your hidden gems philosophy, hah. I wish I weren’t so shallow. :P

    • Wendy Darling

      The violence isn’t really graphic in this book, Jen–it’s just a fact of life, and sort of chilling when you think about it.

      But yes, definitely try some adult UF sometime! You might give the Kate Daniels series a try. Most people respond well to her, and she’s a great heroine.

  35. Danielle

    Ohhhhhhh. Okay. My copy of this arrived yesterday, and I’m keen to start it because I’ve heard nothing but praise.

    And this one might have ‘Alex Awards’ written all over it, because it’s YA-readers who have been singing its praises the loudest and recommending it to me.

    I was surprised that nobody mentions anything of ‘romance’ when it comes to this book though. And for a werewolf-centric adult series … I don’t know, maybe I’ve read one too many hyper-sexualized werewolf series that this one seems refreshing for leaving the mushy stuff out :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m so glad you got a copy, Danielle–I look forward to hearing what you think of it! Bold prediction there, how interesting that it’s YA readers who are singing its praises.

      There is very little romance in this, just building tension and attraction, though my guess is that we’ll see more in future books. I don’t mind sex in books per se, but I do think that too many throwaway PNR/UF books rely too heavily on sex to sell a story.

      I think you’ll like this book. :)

  36. Keertana

    WEREWOLVES? *dies* With that word itself, you had me convinced I had to pick this up. I love that the world-building is strong and it actually sounds so different from most of the UF Series I’ve read. Plus, I seem to be behind on all the good UF Series (behind by SEVEN books!), so it’ll do wonders for my self-esteem to be on the starting end of a series! Great review, Wendy, and THANK YOU for putting this on my radar! I cannot WAIT to pick it up! :D

    • Wendy Darling

      I LOVE werewolves, Keertana. I mean, I like shifter books in general, but I have a soft spot for wolves in particular.

      I bet you’d like this–it’s very adult, and the worldbuilding is so good that fantasy fans would really appreciate that. And hah, yes–hooray for joining a brand new series for once! Me too, me too.

  37. Sunny Duvall

    I actually like to read Adult, even though YA will always be my first choice. However, it sounds so much like YA and YOU liked it, so it makes me want to give it a try . I always love villains are more complex so I’ll be with you there. Great review!

    • Wendy Darling

      YA’s always my first choice too, but I definitely need a break now and again. The style is very adult, as are the situations, but I think it’s a good transition for YA readers who might be looking for darker, grittier stuff.

  38. Karen

    I hadn’t even realized this was Urban Fantasy and I love an author that write compelling werewolves.

    I’ll have to add this to my reading list.

    • Wendy Darling

      I LOVE werewolf novels too–and I would never have guessed this was adult UF based on that cover, hah. It looks more like self-pubbed YA, to be honest. But ignore the cover, it’s an awesome book.

  39. madwomanattic

    O.O I want to read this so much! Not being a Bishop’s fan, I am looking forward to read this one and her novella The voice.

    • Wendy Darling

      Well it’s out today, so you should get yourself a copy asap! :) I need to check out this author’s other books, too–this is the first one of hers I’ve read.

    • madwomanattic

      It’s far too expensive at the moment (Hardcover is 16£ = 18,50€). I should wait until the Paperback and then nothing can stop me! I read Daughter of the blood, it was ok (I was highly disappointed, due to my high expectations as every Portuguese reviews said it was amazing and overwhelming). That is why I want to read this one, as the synopsis looks yummi!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, gotcha. I actually usually prefer paperbacks to hardbacks too, since we live in an apartment and there’s always a space issue. I hope you like it when you get around to it, then.