Written In Red
by Anne Bishop
Book 1 of 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 wen he learns the truth about Meg and that she's wanted by the government, he'll have to decide whether she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.
Written In Red was outstandingly entertaining and enjoyable. And I probably would have given it a higher rating if not for the fact that it seemed a little too juvenile and mundane in its story content. In my mind, the dragging day-to-day activities we see Meg wander through from the first moment she's hired as the human liaison of this small community seemed fairly banal. It made the book feel like it would have been a contemporary chick lit piece about a girl finding a new home and starting over... if contemporary meant an alternate reality of scary shape-shifting, human-eating creatures who had no regard for human life aside from the fact that they provided special meat for food. I guess.
Because it's not like there wasn't a main conflict and story line going on, it just sometimes felt like the story was more focused on Meg's integration into Other society and she's so special she abruptly makes friends and becomes part of the Others despite being a human. I understand that this gets explained away in the fact that she is indeed special, as a cassandra sangue, a blood prophet, and that the blood prophets are oft times kind of child-like in their innocence, which makes them extra special and lovable.
That's fine. It actually DOES work out in Meg's benefit so that no matter what she does that would normally get a normal human living among Others killed, they let her off the hook because it's endearing on her. And because she doesn't smell like prey and does a good job with her job, and so none of the Others (save a few wary ones with misguided notions) feel that it's okay to hunt her down and eat her.
(On a side note, I also kind of liked the little glimpses into Meg's former captivity and how she and other cassandra sangue were schooled and kept. It allows us a better understanding of Meg and her personality and why she is the way she is.)
Some of the actions and events, and sometimes even the dialogue, felt deliberate at times; as if the characters were meant to say and do these particular things because we needed the story to go on.
But aside from the above, to be honest, I had lots of fun reading this book because it was also strangely endearing--like Meg. It had a lot of great subtle humor and nonsensical one-liners that probably wouldn't have worked in any other book. But for some reason, this strangely endearing quality kind of works to give Written In Red a bit of personality, thus, causing it to stand out amidst many other paranormal romances that I might have sniffed at.
Of course, to call this book a paranormal romance might be a bit misleading since the romance is almost nearly nil to none. Simon and Meg have a great bond going; Simon's a jackass, but making him a human-flesh eating wolf shifter who doesn't understand humans is a great reason to give for his being kind of a jackass. Because he mellows out later on and it's kind of nice.
And aside from the banality of the story progression, aside from the deliberateness of some crucial story-forwarding moments, and aside from Meg's too quick welcome into the Lakeside Courtyard among the Others, I felt like this book was pretty much outstanding in everything else.
I loved the characters, who are all unique and interesting in their own ways. I love the concept of this alternate reality, despite how confusing the setting and history is--I'm not quite sure I follow very well with the short history, and it took a while to sort of shrug off the fact that I'm not sure what kind of setting Written In Red is based in. I loved what little culture we saw between Others and humans and how they interact with one another and hope to see more in future books. I loved little adorable Sam and, as predictable as that tangent was--how Meg is the only one who manages to bring Sam back out of his withdrawn form--it was also very cute. And yes, endearing.
This book has a great concept. And it didn't rub me the wrong way as most paranormals that aren't also mysteries usually do. I've found in the past that I rarely got along with anything remotely labeled paranormal romance unless it also came with a murder mystery of some sort and spent the majority of the book investigating said murder.
But Written In Red was exceptionally fun and enjoyable in a strange way. Aside from the whole "Meg is super special" thing, I honestly didn't mind the other little quibbles I pointed out above. And if all the other cassandra sangue are similar and turn out to have that same child like personality as Meg, which will effectively make Meg not quite so special anymore if she's not the only one, then I'll probably be a bit more satisfied.
However, if I were being honest with myself, even if Meg DOES turn out to be the super special one, even of her own kind, I'm not sure I'd mind all that much now that I've come to love this world. As I said, even in spite of all the little quibbles, (and also in spite of some of the bloodier, gory, gross parts), this book was extremely enjoyable and strangely endearing enough for me to label it a favorite for this year.
2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge
• Reading Assignment Challenge