Title: Written in Red
(The Others #1)
Author: Anne Bishop
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
March 5, 2013
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.