This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.
Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.
For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep .”
Like most other reviewers, I find it hard to write a review of a book in the Others series without descending into frantic Muppet flails of happiness. For me, this series is pure entertainment, and I find it effortless to sink so far into the story that I put down the book and wonder which world I’m in. This book, and the series as a whole, works on so many levels that it’s hard to categorize them all.
On one level, like I said, this book is just fun to read. I love the characters–Sam with his squeaky-door howl, Grandfather Erebus and his love of old movies, the Crowgard and their addiction to sparkly things–and I especially love their interactions with the main character, Meg. She oftentimes puzzles the local terra indigene, but they retain a deep affection for her, and it shows how they treat her. There are some new characters introduced in this novel, most notably Monty’s daughter Lizzie, that liven up the story. And readers learn what happened to the freed cassandra sangue after the end of Murder of Crows by following one as she adjusts to freedom.
On a deeper level, you can read the story as having to do with prejudice, racism, and even colonialism. Here, the “white man” is the intruder and is often dealt with harshly for seemingly minor transgressions. The backlash against this attitude manifests in the Humans First and Last movement, which sadly echoes a lot of the social conflicts of the modern world. Both humans and Others have a lot of learning to do, but I think the humans have the farthest to go: they feel owed a supremacy in Thaisia that they haven’t earned. On the other hand, isn’t rising up against prejudice something we applaud others for doing? It’s an interesting mix in which you identify with, and condemn, both sides of the conflict. I don’t know if the author meant all that to show up in the story, but that’s how it resonated for me.
On a different note, I love how the worldbuilding expands with every novel. There are hints that we’ll soon see what things look like in the Thaisian version of Europe, which I can’t wait to see. I also look forward to seeing the feline Others (I’m a cat person) that were briefly mentioned herein. It’s so obvious to me how much thought Bishop has put into this world, and I adore every square inch that we get to see. She even roleplays as the wolves on Facebook–if you haven’t checked out the Anne Bishop’s Courtyard page, I highly suggest that you do so, because it’s tons of fun to read.
So, while I stop myself from gushing further over this book, go out and get it for yourself. If you haven’t started the series yet, go get Written in Red without delay. If you like urban fantasy, you’ve got to read this one.