Review of WRITTEN IN RED by ANNE BISHOP
(first in THE OTHERS series)
Bishop is one of my all-time favorite authors, so it was with pleased surprise that I found a book by her I had not yet read sitting patiently on my to-read shelves.
The story takes place in an alternate contemporary reality, but with the twist that “the Others,” fae and their like, lived here long before humans. While the Others and humans have found a way to co-exist, humans will always want to eliminate their rivals and the Others are always ready to remind the humans who holds the real power.
Meg is a blood prophet, which means when someone cuts her skin she sees visions of the future. Humans have a law allowing for “benevolent ownership” of blood prophets, the argument being that their visions make them too crazed and unpredictable to take care of themselves. When Meg manages to escape, she flees towards the Others. While the Others are dangerous themselves, human law does not apply on their territory, meaning Meg cannot be dragged back and returned to her human owner. She finds a simple job sorting mail for her shape-shifter (essentially werewolf) landlord Simon. However, Meg’s unique gift earned her Controller a lot of money and they want her back. When the wrong people start tracking her down, Simon and his friends will need to decide how much they’re willing to put on the line to protect a near-stranger human.
From here, both my praise and criticism will sound very similar to any other reviews of Bishop’s work. I always adore her huge, varied casts of characters as well as pretty much each individual character. I also cherish the amazing combination of dark and cute; she really knows when to provide what for that perfect balance. In my mind and for my taste, her novels are near perfect.
My criticisms are more objective. None of them bother me or diminish her novels in my perspective, but I can pick out the same weak spots in her books that I know would irritate some readers more than myself. First, too many characters. If you often struggle keeping track of lots of names, her books will doubtless confuse you. Second, the villains are too evil. I will admit to usually preferring more complex antagonists. Most all of Bishop’s villains are simply selfish. How villainous they are depends on how far they’ll go to pursue their own selfish wants. Third, the heroines are too Mary Sue. Everyone either adores or detests them. It sometimes feels like the world has shifted to revolving around this protagonist. Because I always like her heroines myself, I forgive this without much complaint.
I didn’t realize this is the first in a series when I started it. However, I didn’t find myself irritated at that realization as I often am, because Bishop found such a good closure point. I did, however, moan, “Nooooooooo!” because I wanted to keep reading the story to the finish and didn’t have the next book.