Written in Red
by Anne Bishop
I’ve been a long-time fan of Anne Bishop (loved her Ephemera series, and her Black Jewels series is also great). But somehow I missed that book one of her new series came out last year, and only just got around to reading it. It’s adult urban fantasy, set in an alternate reality of Earth where The Others (fair folk, werebeasts, elementals, vampires, etc.) not only exist, but are the dominant society on the planet. Humankind maintains an ever tenuous truce with them, in exchange for (basically) being allowed to live and form human communities. But humans, living separately from The Others, occasionally forget just how easily they can be snuffed out, and disasters ensue.
The first book in this series focuses on Meg, who is not your average human. She’s a blood prophet, who experiences visions of the future when her skin is cut. She’s been kept ignorant and captive (by other humans) in a compound full of blood prophets, until piecing together information from visions gives her a way to escape. Stumbling through a winter storm, she finds herself at the Courtyard, a community of Others inside a human city. And they just happen to be looking for a human liaison. So starts Meg’s new life, learning to live among the dangerous Others while hiding from her former owners. As bounty hunters close in and the Others start to look on Meg as one of their own, a potentially major clash between the two sides brews.
I loved this book. It’s a bit slow to get going, and Meg’s blood prophet gift doesn’t really come into play until later. And while there was no romance, there’s an obvious potential for that brewing for book two. But the sheer otherness of the Others and the tension behind every interaction just drives the story along. There’s intrigue and friendship and danger and humor. I’ve long admired Bishop for her unique world-building and characters with depth, and this did not disappoint. I’m on the waitlist for book two from the library, and plan on diving into it. I would definitely recommend.