Sunday, 24 January 2016

Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Title: Written In Red
Author: Anne Bishop
Publication Date: March 5th 2013
Publisher: ROC
Series: Book #1 in The Others series

Rating  4.5 stars

Synopsis: 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.

Such a stellar read!

One of my reading goals for 2016 was to really delve more into my favorite genre which so happens to be fantasy. I created a tbr jar compiled of various fantasy novels that I found through booktube, instagram, and goodreads suggestions. If you want to know what's in this jar you can check out my fantasy tbr shelf here.

I mainly put in a lot of underrated fantasy books, whether high/urban fantasy, being a mixture of both adult and young adult, I would expand my knowledge of the genre more besides only reading the most popular fantasy books which are out now. I was so ecstatic when this was my first pick of my fantasy tbr jar and it definitely did not disappoint.

Written in Red is a uniquely set world in which the humans are aware of the indigenous creatures (Others) that reside in the world. Terra indigene which consist of Wolves, vampire, spirit bears, Elementals (kickass female deities of the various seasons i.e. winter, spring...and elements such as air and fire), and many we have yet to discover who can take the form of humans whenever they find suitable.

It's a interesting dynamic in which the terra indigene rule over the human government and their laws, keeping what they only see as prey in line. I'm always up for a beautiful blend of fantasy with interesting government political structure. 

Our main character, Meg Corbyn ends up getting tangled in the world of these creatures as she seeks shelter in working for them as their Human Liaison, while hiding from those from the compound she escaped.

Being a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg was kept in a compound by The Controller who holds blood prophets captive and sells their prophecies for money. Reading about blood prophets was so fascinating to discover. Anne Bishop makes Meg out to be almost naive to the outside world after being in captivity and only learning what those in the compound allow her to, but once in the real world she seems to be able to grasp things quickly and is quite perceptive.

Before I read this I thought being a blood prophet would just be an added on thing to her character with limited aspects. But in all actuality is complex. Meg has this utter compulsion at times to cut her skin to see a prophecy whenever she feels something is out of her control, or she senses something is amiss. It really is something she struggles throughout this novel, as you learn that some blood prophets end up becoming insane over time.

Meg is able to find acceptance and solace in the Others, who in the beginning want nothing to do with her, but in the end becomes almost like a family to her.

What really make this book are the characters. We are introduced to to many in this first book alone, but Bishop does a great job of distinguishing each person. My favorite character interactions would have to be those between Meg and Simon Wolfgard, who is the leader of the Lakeside Courtyard in which they reside and the one who gives Meg the job after she comes in stumbling half frozen into his store that first night.

Simon goes though significant character growth throughout this novel. From having a strong dislike of humans in the beginning and seeing them as nothing more as prey to taking Meg in as a liaison and becoming more use to her you can see his dynamic slightly shift as tries to understand her.

Another dynamic that I truly loved was between Meg and Sam, an adorable Wolf pup who is terrified of humans after one night when his mother is killed by one. It was endearing to see Meg become a mother-like figure for him as he begins to become trusting of her and the outside world. It was interesting to see because we know virtually nothing about Meg's life, such as how she end up in the compound, did she even have parents or siblings? She is so much more than her prophecies, the way she can emphasize and try to understand others frustration and pain is a valuable human trait, which really drives the plot.

Though I will admit that the plot is really slow going at times, it really picks up during fight scenes and the eventual climax.

I love how how terrifyingly scary Anne Bishop can make the terra indigene. Cross them and they won't mind tearing you limb from limb. The fight scenes can be so unapologetically graphic and I strangely love it. I have issues okay.

The only reason why I gave this 4.5 stars instead of 5 was because I wasn't particularly fond of the writing, which I hope improves over the course of this series. I know this is labeled as adult urban fantasy, but I also definitely recommend this if you're a lover of young adult fantasy.

Overall, Written In Red was substantial read for me. With great characters, interesting world politics, and internal struggles, I can definitely see this series as becoming one of my favorites. Really excited to delve into the next book Murder of Crows soon.

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