Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop

WritenMy Five Word TL:DR review:  Great Start.  Loving it already

I’m always happy to find a new urban fantasy series and The Others is my most recent venture and one that I’m very happy to say has got off to a very good start.

Written in Red introduces us to the world of The Others.  The Others basically embrace just about everything supernatural that you’ve ever encountered in a story.  There are shapeshifters, blood drinkers, elementals and other characters who are so terrifying that even the other creatures give them a wide berth.  The humans in this world are prey and a fragile truce exists between the two as a result of humans being creative and inventive and the Others developing a taste for the products humans create.  But, one step out of line and entire villages and towns have been known to disappear, almost overnight.

This first instalment introduces us to Meg Corbyn, on the run in the middle of a snow storm, freezing cold, weary and on the verge of collapse.  She makes it to a sanctuary of sorts – a Courtyard, a place run by the Others that tolerates humans but operates on its own rules.  Meg is being chased and is hoping for the ‘rules’ of the Courtyard to protect her.  She encounters Simon Wolfgard, alpha male within the courtyard who gives her a job as the Human Liaison, mainly because he’s being badgered by someone else about the role and this gives him the ability to swiftly terminate any further discussions – the job now being taken.

As I mentioned above, Meg is on the run, she’s a cassandra sangue which basically means she can foretell the future – but in order to do so she must cut herself, her own blood bringing forth the vision.  Strangely enough, this ability is what makes Meg so interesting to the Others, she isn’t quite human, or at least she’s something more, and so within fairly short order, and maybe because they realise that Meg is being pursued by people powerful enough to use the law to suit their own purposes, the Others decide to take Meg under their wing and protect her.  Of course, this leads to problems in the form of outside attacks but these events only serve to create a firmer bond between Meg and the other members of the Courtyard.

As first books in series go this one really worked out well for me.  I often find that the first book in a series can be a little lacking in some respects, particularly in terms of forming attachments to any of the characters as there’s usually such a lot to discover.  I didn’t have that experience with Written in Red, maybe because it’s a tad longer than I would normally expect, and also maybe because the author writes in a way that assumes the reader will already have some knowledge of the supernatural.  She gives a fairly brief but easy to understand idea of the world set up and then moves on quickly to the story with the expectation that you’ll be on board and I really enjoyed this approach.  Other information is offered up as and when needed without huge exposition or the need to over explain everything.  There’s a gentle touch in terms of leading readers forward and letting them enjoy the plot and get to know the characters.

And, the characters are great.  There’s a lot here that’s easy to like.  Meg works her magic fairly quickly, she’s almost childlike in her innocence and lack of understanding of the wider world and this naivety quickly endears her to many of the others from the Courtyard.  There’s also a certain chemistry developing between her and Simon that is quite enticing to read about and I think I will enjoy that element of the story if it is indeed going to take a turn down that route.  Personally, and I often find this, I really enjoyed some of the side characters and there is surely no shortage to choose from here.  One of my favourites was Tess.  She runs the coffee shop but she’s one of those characters that you really don’t want to mess with – and her hair gives a good indication of her mood so definitely take heed – furiously curling and turning toxic green and you might want to consider leaving, quickly – before things go from red to black!

In terms of criticisms I didn’t have too much really.  I mentioned above that this felt slightly longer than I’m used to and there is a lot of attention to the smaller detail, such as everyday humdrum elements like eating, dressing, showering, driving to work – but, at the same time that this can feel a little monotonous at some points at the same time I kind of liked the attention to detail and dare I say that, in a supernatural world of bears, crows, vampires and other unnamed critters, those little details can be quite grounding.

To cut a long story short I very much enjoyed this first instalment and have in fact already picked up the second in audio and started to listen.

I’m so happy that Lisa (Way Too Fantasy) and I decided to buddy read this one.  We, of course, ended up reading at different paces but the idea of reading the series together definitely provided the incentive I needed to kick of this series and so far so good – and of course, being incredibly late to this particular party means I don’t have to wait for the next books in series – win:win.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars.

Copy bought for kindle.