Last year I took my first foray into Anne Bishop and absolutely fell in love with Written in Red. Written in Red told the story of the Others, the humans and the cassandra sangue. It gave us a world where the Others rule with uncompromising brutality until in one Courtyard a small pack of humans changed things just a tiny bit. The person affecting this change is Meg Corbyn, escaped blood prophet and the heroine of our story.
Written in Red ended with an upheaval that left the Elements punishing the humans. For days and days snow and ice reined and humans suffered. While the weather eventually calmed down there were still many questions left and all of them centered around Meg and the people sent to take her back. Also under question is Simon’s violent reaction to someone unknown force.
Murder of Crows opens the action right back up when we are introduced to gone over wolf and feel-good, two drugs that have a dramatic effect on those who take them. Humans have taken it upon themselves to put the drugs in the trash of a local city knowing that the Crows will show up to pick the shiny bits out of the trash. Once they take those shiny bits and are exposed to the drugs they are open prey for any and all creatures. The drug makes them happy as can be and have not a care in the world.
Before anything happens to the Crows of Lakeside, Meg has a vision and they are ordered home. That doesn’t stop the real crows from picking at the trash or the slaughter that follows when someone shows up to kill them. Only Meg’s prophecy saved the Lakeside Crows. When this happens several times in several locations the Others decide to take action and erase the human settlements from the area. The humans are only there because the Others allow them to be and now that will change.
I don’t want to go into the plot too much because it is better if you read it while it plays out. Simon and Meg are the other main aspect of the book and they are fascinating. Something happens in the first chapter that puts Meg on guard and illustrates the difference between the two of them. Simon cannot understand what Meg’s big thing is and this puts a small rift between them. The rift stresses both of them out and we start to realize what they mean to each other. There are no words of love, romance or sex in this book except for a comment by Montgomery that he wonder if anyone else realizes that Simon is falling in love with Meg. What we do have is plenty of moments like this:
Steve hesitated. “Would you have any objection to my visiting the Lakeside Courtyard?”
He thought about that for a moment and why Ferryman would be asking now. “You want to get a look at Meg?”
“Yes, I’d like to meet her. But more than that, I’d like her to get a look at me.”
He thought about that too- and decided that tearing out Steve’s throat was an honest response but not an appropriate one. And since he had enough to think about, he wasn’t going to ponder why that was his response.
I’m not sure where Simon and Meg are going because they are so different and there are so many things at play here. What I do know is that I really like the slow way whatever they have is developing and I am happy to be along for the ride.
Now for my one concern about the series as a whole, not necessarily for Murder of Crows.
Minor spoilers for the Black Jewels series now****************
If you have read Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series then you know how it turns out (if you haven’t then ignore this paragraph). You know how Jaenelle is portrayed as young, fragile and a thing to be protected. Sadi, her lover, is the opposite, big, bold and strong. Simon and Meg are a replica of Sadi and Jaenelle. Take this quote for example:
Hearing a grim undertone, Monty stopped walking toward the patrol car. “After what you saw today, what chance do you think Meg Corbyn has?”
Lorenzo looked away. Finally he sighed. “With her sensitivity to prophecy, I think Meg Corbyn was doomed after the first cut.”
From the beginning it has been stressed on us that cassandra sangue cannot and do not live outside controlled environments and then do survive very long even when they are watched over. I am very scared to invest in Simon and Meg and experience the same thing that I did with Jaenelle and Sadi. Right now there is only that small hint of romance between Simon and Meg however in Murder of Crows it was just a bit more than it was in Written in Red. If that pace continues and they do have a relationship, I fear where it will eventually end and I want to hold myself back from falling in love with them.
So take away my spoiler paragraph, which really you should because it has nothing to do with this individual book, Murder of Crows is superb. I can’t find a single thing wrong with this book and will probably read it about 10 more times before the next in the series is available. Ms. Bishop has given us a world where it is ok to root for the group we would normally think as the bad guys. The Others are strong, vicious, inhuman and exactly the group I want to rule this complicated world. With the open questions of the Humans First and Last group, Intuits, Monty’s daughter, Simon/Meg and so much more, I am very excited for the next book in the series. Ms. Bishop has an absolute winner with the second book in her Other series and it is Urban Fantasy at its best. Final grade- A
“Don’t absorb so much of what is human that you forget who you are. But if you must, do it for your own sake rather than for the benefit of the rest of us.”