Written in Red by Anne Bishop
published by New American Library (ROC) in March 2013
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.Genre: Urban Fantasy
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.
Series: The Others, Book #1
The Story: In this world, among the humans and the others, there is a special race of female humans called cassandra sangue or more commonly known as blood prophet. Whenever their skin is cut, they see the future, prophecies. They are rumored to live in special place away from the population for their own safety and pampered, but in truth, they are raised in a compound with no control whatsoever of their life and their ability is sold to the highest bidders.
When cs759 escapes from the compound, she takes the name of Meg Corbyn. Knowing that the Controller won't let her go that easily, she takes refuge in the Lakeside Courtyard, a business district operated by the Others where human laws do not apply, as their human liaison. Her job consists of receiving deliveries, sorting and delivering the mail and packages. For the first time in her life, Meg is free to live how she wants and she's avid to discover life.
Simon Wolfgard is the leader of the Others in the Lakeside Courtyard. He's confused and intrigued by Meg because while human, she doesn't smell like prey. One thing he does know is that she quickly becomes an integral part of the Courtyard, befriending everyone with her special attentions, especially Mr. Erebus - the patriarch of the Sanguinati (read vampires) - and Simon's nephew Sam. As such, whoever wants to harm Meg will have to face the Others.
My Opinion: Written in Red has been on my radar since I've found out about it, but I had my doubts at first. I enjoyed Ms Bishop's Black Jewels series, but some of her other books/series, not as much. However, after seeing all the positive feedback that Written in Red received, I decided to pick it up and I am so glad I did! Because I looooove Written in Red and have already re-read it three times since March!! LOL, I guess that says it all, right? :)
Written in Red excelled on all levels: the writing, the characters, the plot and the world building. However, what stood out the most for was the world building because it felt like it was the purpose of this book. I loved that there was no information dump and instead, Ms Bishop chose to show the readers how things were and worked. Written in Red was all about the little community that is Lakeside Courtyard and the interactions, dynamics, inter-plays of the different Others with the humans, between each other and with Meg. Oh, I'm sure there's much more to this new world Ms Bishop has built, but for now, I feel I had a good grasp and I'm satisfied. And the bonus was that I really enjoyed seeing the day-to-day events and how Meg became part of the Lakeside Courtyard :) I also loved the cast of secondary characters that Ms Bishop introduced in Written in Red and I find they are an integral part of the world building :P
While the storyline did take a back-seat to the world building, I still found it quite interesting and thrilling because the threat of the Controller was constant. Meg knew he would never let her go and readers also came to that understanding when we learn how accurate and sensitive Meg was. I liked that Meg didn't let her guard down, that she was always aware of her surrounding and what was going on, but at the same time, it didn't stop her from enjoying life. And I have to say, it was chilling to see the Controller's reach and to what extent he'd go to get Meg back. I really commend Ms Bishop for doing such a good job weaving the intrigue into the world building so seamlessly and also putting things in place for the future storylines. My only complaint about the storyline in Written in Red is that the pacing was a bit slow with the bulk of the action all happening at the end, and that's very minor considering everything.
I read a review somewhere about Written in Red in which the reviewer stated that this book seemed to be a bit of a departure from Ms Bishop's usual style. I personally don't agree. It is true that Written in Red is not outright dark and I was grateful for that. I enjoyed all the funny, light-hearted moments and I felt it was refreshing, different from the sarcastic and cynical humor that readers are accustomed to with urban fantasy kick-ass heroines. But really, there is an underlying darkness to Written in Red: the real truth about the blood prophets, their cuttings and the nature of the Others in general, their disregard for humans and so on. It is subtle, but it is there. Also, the focus on Lakeside Courtyard and the pace in Written in Red reminded me a lot of Shadalor's Lady, which is one of my favorite Black Jewels books :)
Finally, my favorite part of the book was Meg's relationships with Sam and Simon. I liked Meg's character a lot. She was a great blend of determination, rightness, sweetness and innocence. Her personality and her desires to belong are what won her the respect and friendship of the Others in the Lakeside Courtyard and I feel she deserved it. Meg's friendship with Sam was just so sweet, the two of them discovering the world, opening themselves. I also think Meg not knowing Sam prior to his mother's death helped, it was like starting anew. As for Meg and Simon's friendship, I definitively hope it will lead to more :P
My Grade: A. There's no doubt in mind that Written in Red will be in my Top 3 favorite UF books at the end of the year :) It was such a great start to a new series full of potential, but more importantly, it was a fun and enjoyable read :) I just can't wait to see where Ms Bishop will lead us next and I hope to find out more about the blood prophets soon! :)