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Anne Bishop - The Others Series #1

One the first very fleeting glance, this might sound familiar: Girl with unique abilities and in trouble meets man who turns into wolf and has the power to protect her somehow.
You're thinking about romance? Kick-ass heroine? Werewolves and Vampires? A world in which the supernatural is hiding?
Wrong.
Here, monsters with a resemblance to wolves turn into men, the unique abilities turn the girl not into a kickass heroine but only into a valuable stolen property and humanity just wishes that the supernatural is hiding and mistrusts them on every turn.

The book was recommended at me and the cover - while pretty - didn't really grap my interest. The girl looks scared (and not half-naked, plus point for that) and in the background is a wolf. Okay.

The red title was a nice contrast to the blue-grey picture. And at least to me "Written in Red" sounded interesting.

Though, far more interesting proved to be the summary (on Amazon):

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.


I bought it. I read 10 pages. Stopped. And started from the beginning again, because my expectations had been wrong.
This wasn't an okay book. Not even good. This was a fantastic book. And it only became better.

Why do I like the book? Many reasons, but let's boil it down to two.

1) Because of the world. It feels fresh, reads interesting and you constantly learn something new without it all becoming an info dump. Bishops introduces her readers to the world while the story progresses and the characters live the small and big implications of all that is happening to them. Also there is this balance between humans and Others, that feels right as if it could really happen. Yes, the Others are more powerful as individuals and as a group, but one shapeshifter against a few men with guns? Means dead shapeshifter. The whole situation betwen the humans and the others, feels a bit like a mexican stand-off in which one side comes with a normal gun and the other with a bigger gun - and a tank as back-up. Still, aside from the occasional victims that mostly did something stupid which they were warned against, it's surprisingly peaceful in this world.
On an important note, Bishop isn't afraid to constantly enlarge her world and to give her characters various reasons to act in it. They range from love, to political ambitions, to trust, mistrust, loyalty, greed or outright fear. And this leads me to reason number two...

2) The Characters. From the main characters to the side characters, they all have reasons and fears and dreams. Not a single one feels shallow. The main POV is the one of Meg, but over the book the reader sees the things from several other character POV's as well. Which is fantastic, because these POV's (if not their behaviour before), while not shy away from making Simon (and all the other Others) inhuman. This begins with small things like that mouses are nice snacks (cue in bafflement that the humans are not happy to share their room with mouses) and ends with the constant difficulties to not eat the meat - monkey - human in front of them, because that would to lead more trouble than it's worth. They just go and buy the 'special meat' later at the local butcher... or wait for the next stupid person.

This is an important point in the book by the way, the Others are NOT human, pets, or anything nice. They're predators and humans are prey which makes living next to each other a constant tense experiece. Tense mostly for the humans, though.

Not all problems are solved at the end of this book. Indeed, while the book feels completed and one story arc ends, several others (that were in the background of the book) remain open. I can practically feel the great secrets that still loom in the background and it makes me want to read more. Preferably now. Sadly, the second book will not be published until 2014.

Any Problems/ Warnings?

No romance. Maybe, we'll see a romance between Meg and Simon later, but I doubt it will be already in the next book.
Also, you want a kickass heroine that fights her way through the enemies, you're wrong here. Meg is not a pushover, but her upbringing and the small fact that everyone around her is an Other makes her the weaker one per default.
Third, some might feel that the novel is slowly paced, especially in the beginning.

Who should read this?

Anyone who likes urban fantasy or at least reads it occasionally and likes the softer tones between the lines. Seriously. I think most if not all  might enjoy this.

Other Reviews:
On LJ:
seperis: Review of Written in Red: Very good, very long review, but spoilers upon spoilers
On Websites/Blog:
Review by Ronnie at Paranormal Haven: Very good Review, very fair, no spoilers.
Joint Review at Bookpushers/: Interesting Review by two persons, one who has read Bishop's other novels before and one who hasn't.
Review at fantasybookcritics by Robert: The best Review I could find, very informative, no spoilers

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
claudia_yvr
Apr. 6th, 2013 11:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the heads-up! I read some of Anne Bishop's books years ago, and liked them but somehow never tracked down more of her work. I will definitely check this out.
silberstreif
Apr. 7th, 2013 01:04 pm (UTC)
Have fun reading it! For me it was my first Anne Bishop book, so at the moment I'm seriously considering to track down her earlier ones. ^^
claudia_yvr
Apr. 7th, 2013 09:57 pm (UTC)
This is the one I read and liked. (I must warn though, since I remember you don't like romance in your UF -- this is basically a love story.) However, there was another one I tried that I just couldn't get into -- can't recall which one, she's written quite a few -- which is probably why I never got around to reading more of her stuff.
silberstreif
Apr. 8th, 2013 04:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Isn't this book part of a series?
It's not that I don't like romance in itself, it's that many authors who write romance forget to make the rest of the plot and the world interesting. Though, thanks for the warning. This could easily go into the wrong direction for me.
I've read a few reviews so far that claim that "written in red" is different to her earlier books. No romance for one and also a better writing style.
claudia_yvr
Apr. 12th, 2013 04:22 am (UTC)
Yes, the book was part of a series. Usually, I start with the first book if it's a series and I can't remember why I read this one out of order. Maybe it was an inadvertent mistake or I borrowed it from a friend after finding out I didn't need the backstory to read it.

The world-building was good, that I remember clearly so you might still enjoy it despite the romance. I'd be interested to hear what you think if you do check it out. (And if you end up liking any of her other books, I'll give her another shot.)
silberstreif
Apr. 12th, 2013 10:40 am (UTC)
Then I'll try the first book of the series and sent you a PM with my thoughts on it.
There are few series in which you can just start in the middle. That you liked the book anyway, is a huge compliment for the author. I'll definitely give it a try after I've finished my actual book - The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills.

claudia_yvr
Apr. 21st, 2013 03:50 am (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply -- I'm in the middle of moving, so my life is in chaos, with everything in boxes!

Am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the first book of the series. And to the day that life slows down to the point where I can enjoy a good book again; it's been so crazy busy on my end that I've been re-reading old favourites, since I don't have the attention span to devote to anything new.
silberstreif
Apr. 25th, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, on my side time has become a rarity as well. :) I didn't get the time yet to read that book.

Re-reading old favourites... What are those old favourites? I'm always looking to expand my list for books to read.

Edited at 2013-04-25 09:00 pm (UTC)
claudia_yvr
Apr. 29th, 2013 12:01 am (UTC)
My favourites range from childhood books (Momo by Michael Ende in the original German, which is a book for children as well as adults, exploring the themes of time and community) to the Canadian classic The Book of Eve by Constance Beresford-Howe (about a woman who collects her first pension cheque and leaves her husband of 40 years to start her life over again) to the autobiographical The Kid by Dan Savage about how he and boyfriend became parents. Oh, and David Sedaris is always a good laugh.

In terms of UF, I sometimes re-read the Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series (but didn't find The Edge series as engaging, much to my disappointment) and Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series (but found the Psy-Changeling series only so-so). I adore the novella Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs and the dark world of Stacia Kane's Chess Putnam series (but didn't care for her Megan Chase series as much). Plus nonfiction books like Your Money or Your Life and You can buy Happiness (and it's Cheap)

In terms of new finds, I also really enjoyed Tina Connolly's Iron Skin
silberstreif
Apr. 29th, 2013 11:58 am (UTC)
You can read German? :) Did you learn it at school or are you German? But I agree, Momo in German is definitely a different experience (not that I really tried the English one). I loved the book as a kid, certainly read it around 5 times? I still think that the Schildkröte Kassiopeia is one of the best companions of a hero I've ever read.

'The Book of Eve' sounds interesting, but 'The Kid' really could be my kind of book. I put it into my TBR pile. ^^

I've read Kate Daniels and I do like the series. The Edge series... well. I've read the first book only, and I thought that the end was rushed. The concept of a small Edge between two universes was an interesting one though and the writing was good. Just... the romance was too fast.
Guild Hunter: Is in my TBR pile for ages now...
Alpha and Omega was a strange experience for me. I loved the first short story, didn't like the first book and adore book #3.

Ironskin's summary reads like its not the traditional kind of UF series. Definitely a good find of you. :)
I'll checkup on the other series later.
claudia_yvr
Apr. 30th, 2013 04:07 am (UTC)
My mother is German and I spent a fair chunk of my childhood there, even going to school there one year. To this day, I find reading Momo with Kinderschokolade on hand is great way to unwind if I'm really stressed.

Yeah, I agree with you about the novella; the rest of the series doesn't live up to its promise. But I do love the novella and have read it several times, even though there aren't actually that many books that I re-read.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of my faves :-)
silberstreif
Apr. 30th, 2013 11:42 am (UTC)
So you grew up bilingual. That's kind of amazing.
I am German. ^^ Kinderschockolade is great, but I kind of love Rittersport Schockolade more.
Reading and chocolate = the best way to relax. Always. Especially if you also have a blanket and all you see through your window is a thunderstorm. ;)

The books in the series to slowly get better, I think, though.

:) Then, I'll post the critique on LJ.
claudia_yvr
Mar. 1st, 2015 01:09 am (UTC)
Some more fantasy recs
Hello! Hope all is well on your end :-)

Sorry, I lost track of time but when I recently discovered a new urban fantasy author (well, new to me) I immediately thought of you.

Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series. I've read all five books -- book six comes out later this year -- and there's no romance, just the way you prefer it. It's about a diviner mage who's gone rogue, classifying himself neither Light or Dark. Excellent world-building, strong characters, interesting plots. The books should definitely be read in order, as characters develop over time and prior events are referenced (and often cause the fallout the characters are currently dealing with).

You may already know this, but Harry Connolly has a new trilogy out. The Great Way is about an empire overthrown in a supernatural invasion. (I'm still hoping that he'll return to the Twenty Palaces world he's created, but sales were so dismal despite the critical acclaim that he's unlikely to ever do that. Very sad.)

Also, I have just started reading the first book of Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles. Set in modern times, this world has druids, vampires, werewolves, fae and others making themselves at home in the human world.
silberstreif
Mar. 2nd, 2015 03:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Some more fantasy recs
Hi!

great to hear from you again. :D

Well, I admit I am a HUGE fan of the Alex Verus books. I think I am stalking the author across the internet for close two years now and so far I am only getting more and more fascinated. Especially because Jacka does not shy away from letting his character make morally deeply flawed decisions...

Oh, that I didn't know yet. Thank you, I have to check it out as fast as possible. I miss Twenty Palaces as well, but the publisher does not want to give him a new chance. Which really is a pity, he has some very loyal fans out there. But I guess "some" weren't enough. :( Still, I noticed that the books since the series has been cancelled became only more popular - or at least I stumpled across their mention more and more often.

What do you think of the Iron Druid?
claudia_yvr
Mar. 3rd, 2015 06:54 am (UTC)
Re: Some more fantasy recs
I've put Kevin Hearne's book to one side at the moment, because THREE books I had pre-ordered just came out today: Devon Monk's Infinity Bell (the second book in the House Immortal series), Patricia Brigg's Dead Heat (book four of the Alpha & Omega series, which is urban fantasy with a romantic twist as it is about a couple), and of course Anne Bishop's latest book of the Others series.

The most exciting part is that the early reviews and ratings are excellent for all three books, so I'm not even sure which one to start with. I haven't read any reviews, because I don't want to risk coming across any spoilers.

It's like Christmas!!
silberstreif
Mar. 4th, 2015 12:37 am (UTC)
Re: Some more fantasy recs
I am currently in the middle of Anne Bishop's new book, and so far I like it more than #2! :D

Dead Heat is already bought as well, but I have to be in the mood for that couple. I sometimes feels as if Anna simply has no personality beyond Charles. I mean - does she has any hobbies not related to him? I couldn't think of a single one.

And I put yesterday the House Immortal Series on the top of my reading pile. Christmas indeed! :D

(Now I only wished I had more time reading! - Or answering your messages. It's 1:30 am here, because I wanted to read at least a chapter or two today... )
claudia_yvr
Mar. 6th, 2015 11:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Some more fantasy recs
Okay, so far I've read the latest books by Patricia Briggs and Devon Monk but not yet the new Anne Bishop.

Patricia Briggs: I can see why you'd say that about Anna, but I don't feel the same way. Considering how she became a werewolf and the way her first pack treated her, it's realistic that it's taken her some time to come out of her shell. That said, from the very start, she's always been an active participant in overcoming whatever adversaries they face. Even in the first short story that introduces the couple, Charles might have lost his battle with the alpha, if Anna hadn't stopped his mate from interfering. Overall, I thought the latest book in the series was okay but not as strong as the predecessors. (Unlike Benedict Jacka's series, which starts strong and keeps getting better.) I am still looking forward to the next book, though. I have a real fondness for Anna, Charles and their world.

Devon Monk: You know, I was really intrigued by the first book. Set in the future, it has a real retro-steampunk feel to it and the concept really fired my imagination. However, I felt the second book wasn't as strong. You'll also be annoyed to find out that there's romance in the second book. Lots of it, in fact: Matilda and her crush, her brother turns out to have a lady love Matilda didn't know about, and we find out about the Teds' estranged lady love. Some of these back stories felt really rushed to me, crammed in as an afterthought to explain why their (former) ladyloves were risking their necks to help Matilda et al. I also found there was too much exposition. I'm not sure I'll stick around for book three.

I probably won't get to the Anne Bishop book for a few more days, since I want to re-read the first two books in the series. (That's something I do with all the series I'm invested in; I read so much that sometimes the details get blurred together.)

Have you finished Anne Bishop's new book yet? Without any spoilers, please, were you as pleased with the rest of the book as the first few chapters?

Edited at 2015-03-07 12:28 am (UTC)
silberstreif
Mar. 7th, 2015 03:47 am (UTC)
Re: Some more fantasy recs
I admit, that I am a bit unfair to Anna and Charles. The fun thing is that some of my favourite characters have appeared in the Alpha and Omega series. I love the world. And yet... I never truly grew warm with the two main characters. Probably because I don't like the Omega concept. It feels like cheating.

The second book is often less than the first one. But by now I judge a series by the third book. The October Daye series for example had a not-so-great second book and I was tempted after the second book to stop the series. The only reason I didn't was a review of the third book - I didn't regret it.

Ah yes, I finished it yesterday in fact. The book keeps its slow pace, but expands the world a bit and develops some characters. Some concepts might seem familiar, but they are given a new taste. If you liked the previous books, book #3 is a safe bet as well. Personally, I will definitely stick around for #4.

But I have to ask, are you supporting the ship Simon / Meg or not? It's just that some on goodreads read it as mainly a (paranormal) romance book, while I just thought urban fantasy.
claudia_yvr
Mar. 9th, 2015 07:21 am (UTC)
Re: Some more fantasy recs
Okay, I've just finished re-reading books one and two, and am about to start reading book three. (Well, not until tomorrow -- it's almost midnight here!)

I wouldn't classify this series as a paranormal romance (PNR), not at all. The way I see it, the focus of a PNR is the love story between two individuals, one or both not human. The key plot is about how they meet, fall in love, overcome conflict and go on to live happily ever after (HEA). I see a PNR as more of a standalone book, though the author might continue setting stories in their world, where a couple featured in one book becomes background cast in another couple's HEA.

I see the series as pure urban fantasy, since the key focus is not on a couple falling in love; it's about the challenges they, and the people in their community, face. The developing relationship between Simon and Meg is important, but so is what's happening in the world they live in and that often takes centre stage.

I like how they interact, the way Meg stands up for herself and, although Simon is very protective of her, he also respects her as an equal...but I have absolutely no idea whether they will ever be a couple. We know that they care deeply for each other, but we don't really know whether that's enough for more than friendship. Would Simon ever be able to fully be himself around her without constantly worrying about accidentally drawing blood? Plus Meg has been abused for most her life, likely raped on a regular basis, so that's another serious hurdle to overcome.

I guess that's a convoluted way of saying that I would ship them if their relationship took a turn for the romantic, but I'm also fine with them simply remaining close friends ;-)
claudia_yvr
Mar. 1st, 2015 08:49 pm (UTC)
Kevin Hearne
I've read several chapters now and I'm disappointed to say that I haven't gotten into the book yet, so I'm on the verge of abandoning it. Which is a real shame, because the reviews are good and the series is popular.
silberstreif
Mar. 2nd, 2015 03:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Kevin Hearne
You're reading "Written in Red"?

Pity you're not getting into it, but I guess it can easily happen. ^^ By now there is a second book out there and the third comes out tomorrow. I am kind of curious where the series is going. The first book was free of romance, the second has shown well not hints but it's slowly moving to the "hint" level. *shrug*

Did you get into the book by now? :)
claudia_yvr
Mar. 3rd, 2015 03:58 am (UTC)
Re: Kevin Hearne
No, no, no -- I'm referring to Kevin Hearne's book Hounded. I'm going to read some more, but I'm really not enjoying so far even though I really, really want to!
silberstreif
Mar. 7th, 2015 03:48 am (UTC)
Re: Kevin Hearne
Yeah, I had trouble with Hounded as well. The character didn't seem to be, what he was supposed to be. At least that's how it seemed to me...
claudia_yvr
Mar. 9th, 2015 06:26 am (UTC)
Re: Kevin Hearne
Did you end up finishing Kevin Hearne's book? Or did you abandon it, like I'm tempted to do?
silberstreif
Mar. 9th, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Kevin Hearne
I read around 50% and then started to skip pages... So, I kind of abandoned it? ^^"
claudia_yvr
Mar. 11th, 2015 02:54 am (UTC)
Re: Kevin Hearne
Ha ha, in that case I'm not going to bother even trying to read more of the book! But I am going to take your advice and check out the third book of the Devon Monk series.

As for the latest book by Anne Bishop, I just finished it and am happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I'm really surprised that some people would consider the series PNR, because the relationship between Meg and Simon has yet to progress beyond a very close friendship. I bet there's lots of fanfic out there, though I'm not in the least bit tempted to look ;-)
silberstreif
Mar. 11th, 2015 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Kevin Hearne
while many praise that series, I have the feeling we might not miss it overly much. ;)
Oh, please tell me what you think of Devon Monk #3. I will read #1 probably this month.

I have began reading Dead Heat. While the start was a bit slow for me, I really enjoy that Leslie is part of the hunt again. I like that agent a lot. ^^ Also, the whole story is definitely pulling me now in. Patricia Briggs has a great writing style.

I wouldn't have considered the Other series as PNR as well, and I hope that the romance speed stays as slow. :p Maybe I can then get used to the idea over a few more books. Also, I love how the world is developing. I really really want to see what the humans are planning and what things are waiting in the forests. ^_^
Oh, and I really like Montgomery. His scenes are a delight to read every time, because he gives such a human touch the whole thing.
claudia_yvr
Mar. 12th, 2015 02:24 am (UTC)
Re: Kevin Hearne
Oh, please tell me what you think of Devon Monk #3.

Book #3 is scheduled to come out on September 1st. I've got it on pre-order, finger crossed that it's money well-spent! In the meantime, I look forward to hearing what you think of book #1.


While the start was a bit slow for me, I really enjoy that Leslie is part of the hunt again. I like that agent a lot.

Me, too. Leslie is sharp as a wit, and I especially loved reading her back story. In general, I like how familiar characters crop up again and again. Like white witch Moira, whose back story can be found in the Strange Brew anthology. Patricia Briggs is a great writer, though her grammar is not the best. (Unfortunately, this is true of many American writers who constantly mix up who/whom and use pronouns incorrectly. This drives me crazy, so I remind myself that English is a living language and that perhaps those are not longer grammatical errors so much as the new American grammar rules. Ugh.)

silberstreif
Mar. 14th, 2015 08:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Kevin Hearne
Oh, I thought you already had Devon Monk #3. Though if you have already bought it, then I am looking forward to the first book. Hope I can read it next week.

I adore Leslie's backstory as well. It explained a lot about her character and how she approaches the supernatural. A GIFT card to a child is such a classic fae thing to do.

There are rumours about a contract for a book about Moira and Tom. It's not written yet, but I dearly hope that she writes it. I like Moira a lot.
Makes me think about the witchblood they have turned in Dead Heat. Charles has said that she is very dominant, and I can't help but think that this is the witchblood. Considering where they other witchblood-wolves rank, I wonder if she might not shake up the wolves hierarchy even more than what Mercy has done over the last few books.

Thankfully, as a non-native speaker I do not notice the grammar mistakes with the same annoyance. Though, I was thought grammar much more rigidly than I have ever seen any native speaker use it. For example, "whose" is for me still a normal word, though it has turned out to be even rarer than "whom". By now I do not use "whom" anymore in my fanfictions, it simply seems to be not in use anymore. Maybe that is wrong. But none of my betas have corrected me as well...
But the worst mix I constantly come across is still their/they're.
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