Thursday, May 16, 2013

Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Written in Red
by Anne Bishop
Read: May 6-8, 2013
Published: March 5th 2013 by Penguin
Source: Library
Category: Urban Fantasy, Adult

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. (From Goodreads)

The more I think about Written in Red, the more I like it, and I liked it a lot right after I finished it. Anne Bishop's world, and its cast of characters featuring humans and terre indigene or Others, are complex and well imagined. I was fascinated by the characterization of each type of Other - the huge and scary wolves, who might eat humans, but like to run and play; the crows' attraction to shiny things; the ponies who can cause massive elemental destruction but also loves sugar lumps. These animals and creatures are unapologetic about being not-human, and can be scary and dangerous. But this story isn't about them trying to conform to the human world, it's about Meg fitting into theirs. Along the way she changes them too, but they are always going to be dangerous and Other, which is one of the reasons why I enjoyed this book so much. 

Anne Bishop's story is highly detailed and slow moving at first, as she takes time to introduce her society and build her story. But Written In Red is definitely worth the extra time spent investing in it. The story follows several characters, but the plot centers around the human and blood prophet, Meg Corbyn. Although a third person limited perspective, featuring several voices can slow down a storyline a bit in the beginning, I actually love this writing style. Especially seeing a broader picture of the society and action, finding out what the different players thought of each other, and watching them strategize and underestimate one another.

Although Meg is physically weak at first, because she has been kept that way by her Controller, she is clever and resilient. I know some people don't like heroines that aren't kick-butt and appear naive and needy at first. But they are sometimes my favorite, because they are almost always underestimated. Meg is that type of heroine. Because of her captivity she sees the world differently, and her ability as a blood prophet is fascinating and terrifying. I enjoyed watching her immerse herself into the lives of the Others, and also surprise and sometimes outsmart them. Along with Meg, many other characters stole my heart including Tess, Grandfather Erebus, Simon, Monty and especially Sam. 

Besides the pacing at the start of the book, there are two other aspects of this story that bugged me. First, for all the descriptions of the Others' community and Meg's daily life, there are some details that seem notoriously absent. For instance, we are told that Daphne was Sam's mother, but there is never a mention of his father. We also know that Elliot is Simon's father but a mother is never mentioned. Perhaps I missed something, but this seemed like an odd omission. In fact almost nothing is officially said about the mating/child rearing nature of the culture, or how exactly families or packs operate. However, I have a feeling that some of these details will come out in the future. Second, although the characters were usually very perceptive, and I enjoyed watching them out maneuver each other, there was at least one instance near the end, when they seemed overly obtuse and didn't pick up on some details that I thought were fairly obvious. Or maybe it's just that there was a certain character that I wanted taken out much sooner. 

Written In Red does not feature any sort of visible romance, and I think it's better because of that. What this book does have is a slow building connection that has the potential to be one of my favorite types of love stories. I don't know where Bishop will take her characters next, but I really like the foundation that she built between some of them. I can't wait for them to figure out (and be forced to deal with) what is going on between them. My most favorite romances are always the very slow burn kind. But even if it never happens, this is a great book. 

Despite a few minor hiccups, I really fell for Written In Red. I found Anne Bishop's world and it's inhabitants to be complex and believable. It is clear that she spent a lot of time imagining  this society, and I got completely lost in it. 

Written In Red is wraps itself up well. The action is completed and there is no cliffhanger. However, it is part of a series and many issues are brewing that will come to play in the future. I cannot wait to get my hands on Murder of Crows in 2014.

Love Triangle Factor: None or N/A
Cliffhanger Scale: Low


  1. Sometimes it could be hard to connect with the story from third person perspective, but I'm glad you managed well. I like when the world is thoroughly explained. However, as you said, these explanations are most likely featured in the next book. I also love me some romance. I mean.. I can and have read books where there isn't any, but I like it. They're more easy to connect with since love surrounds us everywhere I think. I'm so glad you found this awesome! I haven't heard of this book and it sounds so cool. I'll look for more reviews and hopefully they'll be as assuring as yours and I'll add it to my TBR pile. Thanks so much for sharing, Lauren! :-)

    1. I actually really love third person perspective, sometimes more than first. I like the air of mystery it provides. And sometimes I get tired of a ll the "I did this" "I did that" that's written into first person. This IS a very well developed world, so many details. Sometimes I prefer when the romance starts slowly in a series, so that we avoid all the angst later on. I mean if a romance begins early in the first book, and there are several more to go, the author's going to have to add a lot to keep things interesting. I'd rather start off slowly. And though I don't know exactly where the author is going, I am pretty confident that this series is going to have an awesome romance. No triangle, but a very strong, slow-burn connection.

  2. Yes, I agree that this is one of those novels that become better the more you think about them! I loved Bishop's worldbuilding and unusual plot. I loved her characters and I loved terra indigene, especially the Crowguards. And like you, I think the extremely subtle romance makes this novel so much better.
    Fantastic review, Lauren.

    1. I think I remember you saying that you read this one thru audio? That must have been long! I don't think I could have picked up on everything that way. But I'm a visual learner. Was it read by one person? Anyway, I agree, this is a fantastic start to the series and her characters are really well developed. The crows and their attraction to the 'shiny' was so great. LOVE the romance. Can't wait until they realize what is going on!

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Lauren! I've been avoiding it only because I have never read an UF Novel where I haven't had the next books in the series waiting for me to devour, so it feels weird to start this and know I'll have to wait for the next book to release, so I'm waiting till it releases to start this. Gosh, that was a terrible run-on sentence. Um, okay, sorry, moving on. I really LOVE how vivid this world becomes and am so excited to jump into a book where the romance isn't utterly solidified. I have a feeling I'll love this, so once I do read it, I have no doubt it'll be fantastic. Great review, dear! :)

    1. Yeah, I'm definitely nervous about waiting an entire year for the next book! If you can hold off for a while, I don't think you'll be too bad off. I do hope you love this one though. It does start off slowly, but builds really nicely, and the slowly growing romance is very well done.

  4. I just read the first Kate Daniels book and am looking for more adult urban fantasies to try, so I'll have to look more into depth on this one. I'm not quite sure what a blood prophet is, but the little bit you've said intrigues me. And who doesn't appreciate a series where each book still manages to have discrete closure? Great review, Lauren!

    1. I hope to read the Kate Daniels series this summer! I keep being told that the first book is the weakest, but the series gets fantastic. A blood prophet is someone who sees visions of the future when her skin is cut and she bleeds. It's a dangerous and painful ability, but really fascinating.

      I know! Having a completed book without a cliffhanger is always something that I'm looking for. BUT there is a lot going on in this world, and I can tell that the author has many things up her sleeve. I haven't read a lot of adult Urban fantasy, but I really liked this one. I think it's a bit different from the standard UF fair with the chicks in tight leather on the cover. I like that this author didn't go that route.

  5. I love that you said the more you think about this book, the more you like it and it's especially as good since you finished it with a lot of likeness ;) I hate it when it's the opposite: you ended a book with some pleasure, but the more you thought about it, the more you dislike it. Meg sounds great! Sometimes I need a kick-butt heroine, but sometimes I like the underestimation as well. The romance sounds fantastic as well as the writing! Great review, I'll definitely be picking up this one now :)

    Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

  6. I'm happy for a book to start off slow if it takes time to set the scene and the work up the pace a bit, which sounds like the case here! It sounds like a really different read for me and I also like that there's no romance for a change ;)


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