Written in Red is the first book in a new series by Anne Bishop. The series is about The Others.
The prologue explains a world where both humans and Others, also called terra indigene, exist. While the human race grew and spread the Others watched and waited.
The Others looked at humans and did not see conquerors. They saw a new kind of meat.
Humans were very resilient and figured out a way to thrive in spite of being a lesser race when compared to the Others. Humans were allowed to settle around territory controlled by Others. The humans created and invented while the Others controlled all resources needed to create and invent. As time passed the humans slowly created small towns and cities but most land was held by the Others. In more populated places the Others had Coutryards where they lived and watched over the nearby human population. It was never forgotten who the dominate race was and that was the Others. The Others allowed humans to live…sometimes.
The story opens up with Meg Corbyn stumbling into one of the Courtyards. She is on the run and there is a terrible winter storm dumping large amounts of snow. If she doesn’t find a place to get warm it is likely she will freeze to death. She sees a sign offering a job as a Human Liason for the Other controlled territory. She needs a job, she needs shelter and she needs a place to hide. Hiding in H.L.D.N.A., Human Law Does Not Apply, controlled territory is her best bet. She interviews with the leader of the Courtyard, Simon Wolfgard, who gives her the job that will act as the go between for humans and the Others when it comes to mail and packages.
Meg is a cassandra sangue or a blood prophet. She has been raised in a compound and used only for predictions. Handled by a Controller she is cut in order to release the prophecies. The cuts must be deep enough to leave a scar. Her predictions cannot be ignored and cause a painful itching under her skin if she tries to escape them. It doesn’t take long for the Others to find out she is a blood prophet because they can scent the blood on her. Her blood prophet status makes her interesting to the Others but it also makes her a valuable commodity for the person she has run from. The Controller will not simply let her go free. She is worth too much money and has too much time invested in her.
Because we are made so aware of their lack of concern for human life, the way they handle Meg makes the story so much better.
“She does not think like other humans, and she doesn’t think like us. She is something new, something little known and not understood.”
There are times when she is treated to the ugly side of their life, well the side that is ugly, without being eaten. Meg’s abilities as a blood prophet make her someone they want to protect. They also keep her from having the prey scent which confuses the Others enough to not think of her as something they want to destroy.
“What do you know about blood prophets?” he asked Erebus.
“Very little. Meg is the first of her kind I have ever seen, so I did not know the cassandra sangue and the humans who the sweet blood were the same,” Erebus replied.
“What is the sweet blood?” Henry asked, his eyes narrowing in thought.
“They have adult bodies, but they retain the sweetness of a child’s heart,” Erebus said.
When the times comes for humans to try and take Meg back will the Others fight for her, let them have her or just eliminate them all?
Written in Red is 430+ pages and I could have easily read 200 more. From the time I first opened the books I was utterly spellbound by the story and the world building. I can’t say there was a lot of action or things happening at a fast and furious pace but every page was filled with something pertinent to the story arc.
I loved the absolutely unapologetic, brutal nature of the terra indigene. These characters were not your normal shifters, vampires, or other super natural forces we normally read about. They had no regard for humans as anything other than meat or prey. Some of the death scenes were spectacular and gory. At one point the wolves allow a human to wake back up before they eat him because conscious prey is so much better.
There are several storylines happening throughout the book. A couple of them are resolved but there are questions left for future books. There is no cliffhanger ending but at the same time there is no real romance or a resolution of a couple. Meg is too young, broken and still finding her way for there to be a true romance in the story. The lack of romance did not detract from the story even a tiny bit. In fact, with the way the book flows a romance would have seemed out-of-place and forced.
I adored this book. I adored the tone, the voice, the detail, the graphicness….everything. I am so excited for this new series. This was my first book by Ms. Bishop but I think I will spend several days in the near future glomming on her backlist. Final grade- A+
“Chopped up a few pieces of stew beef,” he said. “Let it get warm before you give it to Sam. The other package has pieces of dried stag stuck. The pups like chewing on those.”
“What’s stag stick?” Meg asked, taking the packages.
He stared at her for a moment. Then he put a fist below his belt and popped out a thumb.
“Oh,” Meg said. “Oh.”