Written in Red
(The Others #1)
by Anne Bishop
Publication Date: March 5, 2005
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.
Okay. I feel like I’m the last person on this planet to start reading The Others series. The only reason why I finally gave in was because the last book just came out and that’s all anyone has been talking about. I don’t know if I’ve seen one bad thing about this series and that has got me interested. Well, is it worth the hype? Heck, yes! I can’t believe I am just now starting the series. Although, since the series is finished, I can breeze through these bad-boys without having to wait for the next book to come out. So, that’s a plus because before I was even halfway through this book, I was already online putting the next book on my “holds” list at the library. Yup, it’s that good. I was expecting your average urban fantasy with werewolves, vampires, and a blood profit. Nothing out of the norm for an urban fantasy. What I got was a DARK fantasy where the Shiters eat humans, the vampires don’t suck blood the normal way but pull blood out of your body via the pores, and there are Elemental’s with Elemental steeds! Dude, (yes, I just duded you!) I’ve never been so excited by all the gore in a book before. It was absolutely fantastic! And not because it was dark and full of terrors (I’m so excited I’m quoting Game of Thrones) but because it was so completely different from both what I’ve read a million times and from what I was expecting. There was no wolf in human clothes who is civilized and has learned to play nice with humans. There is none of that here and I loved it.
Okay, let me back up this crazy, “I can’t believe what I just read” train and give you the low-down on the book itself. Meg is a blood prophet, someone who when they cut their skin can see a prophecy. However, blood prophets do not roam the world. In fact they are considered property and kept hidden and “safe” by their owners. People go to the facility where the prophets are held and pay to have the girl cut and their fortune told. They aren’t allowed outside of their compound, they are locked in a cage, they are not allowed to exercise and are in turn very weak, and they are not taught in a class but instead are taught via images or videos without sound. So, when Meg escapes she’s pretty much overwhelmed by everything. She makes her way to the Shifter Courtyard in Lakeside in hopes of finding sanctuary and hiding out from her “owners” who will no doubt be looking for their cash cow. Since she’s not completely human, the Shifters are confused by her scent and since they are in need of a liaison to deal with the human delivery men who bring mail to the courtyard, they decide to allow her to stay and work for them since they are not tempted to eat her like them would a normal-smelling human.
The book follows Meg, Simon (the Shifter leader of the Courtyard), and Montgomery (the new cop who was just assigned to be the liaison for the Shifters and the policemen). We also get some behind the scenes look at the villains as well. Like I said from the start, this isn’t your typical urban fantasy. You see, if you enter the Courtyard without permission, and you’re human… you die. There’s an understanding between the police and the Shifters that when humans come onto their land, especially with weapons, they do not leave the Courtyard alive. Actually, they don’t leave the courtyard at all. Instead, they will leave the humans wallet behind in a specific location for the police to pick up so that they know who was killed and can notify the family members. In the beginning of the book we are made privy to what happens when humans trespass onto their land. Let’s just say the Shifters had a nice warm, screaming meal, the vampires had some tasty fresh blood, and the next day the butcher put out a sign for “special meat.” *mind blown*
“For a moment, Meg couldn’t think, could barely breathe as a drawing of a cow with arrows pointing to the various cuts of meat popped into her head. Then she imagined a drawing of a human with the same kinds of arrows. Could there be a sign like that in the butcher shop?”
I loved ALL the characters of this book. The Elemental’s were amazing. I loved how they age as the season comes to a close. I love how most people would fear the Shifters with their big sharp teeth, but overlook the cute, petite girl skating on the lake, or the pretty horsey who gets excited over a sugar lump snack. I thought the horses were ADORABLE. Especially when Meg introduces a snack-reward for them making mail deliveries for her. They start pushing each other to be the first in line to get a carrot or sugar lump, they try to get back in line and pretend that they didn’t get their treat. They were seriously cute. I made the mistake of thinking they were cute horses… and I would be dead right now if I lived in this world that the author created. Those horses, and the girls who play on the land, are two of the most deadliest creatures on the Courtyard. They can be sweet one moment and the next they’re turning the snow to quicksand to kill you alive, setting you and your organs on fire with just a touch and and a breath, they’re freezing your innards with just a look. Again, my mind was blown. Aside from the Elemental’s, you have Tess, the coffee shop owner at the Courtyard who’s clearly “other” but no one knows what she is. All you know is to be weary of her hair color because it changes based on her mood, and when her hair is completely black… people die. Let’s just say her hair turns completely black at some point in the story and her characters is fantastically scary. I was completely giddy in my seat when her true form was revealed. Oh, and let’s not forget Sam, the Wolf pup who’s mom was killed right next to him by hunters when they were out running around the Courtyard as wolves. Since that day, two years ago, Sam has been a fearful pup who won’t talk to anyone, won’t change back to human, and hasn’t aged a day since. He spends all his time shaking in a cage terrified by everyone and everything. However, when Meg is asked to keep an eye on him while Simon has to run off to do Shifter business, Meg comes up with a system for the pup. She puts him in a harness and leashes him up to her (since he can’t be trusted to not run off when outside), and she calls it the “adventure buddy system.” That way they can pull each other out of snowbanks if one falls in. She completely plays up this harness and leash idea to him and it works! Pretty soon she’s spotted all over the courtyard with a Wolf pup on a leash and harness and let’s just say the other Shifters of the Courtyard were not thrilled by seeing one of their own on a leash and harness. I just loved how Meg came into the Courtyard and shook things up. Pretty soon the Wolves are lazying about on the dog beds she ordered and fighting over the dog cookies she brings into work. It was all pretty comical. Which was a good thing because there was so much darkness around the Shifters and their nature that the short spurts of comedy helped lighten the mood a bit.
I wasn’t expecting anything crazy from this book but I was completely blown away by the story and characters within. I honestly was planning to give this a 4 star rating but considering how much I’ve gushed about it, how excited I got as I typed all these words, how much I’m itching to get the next book so that I can pop back into their world, and the fact that I haven’t even finished my morning coffee yet speaks volumes. If you’re looking for a book that is heavy in the paranormal, is plenty dark and gruesome and TRUE to the characters, and isn’t bogged down with romance then you have GOT to get this book. On one hand, I can’t believe it took me so long to hop on the Meg Corbyn train, but on the other, I’m glad I waited because I can binge read all the books in one sitting without having to wait for the author to write the next book.
“Is it that time of the month?” Vlad asked.
Some feeling blew through her. It might have been embarrassment, but she suspected it was closer to rage. “What?”
He studied her. “Is that not an appropriate question to ask?”
“Odd. In many novels I’ve read, human males often ask that question when a female is acting…” Puzzlement as he continued to study her face. “Although, now that I consider it, they usually don’t make that observation to the female herself.”