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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

Tags: author: anne bishop, favorites, first book, series: the others, urban fantasy
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  • Benedict Jacka - Alex Verus Series #1

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