Written in Red, book One of The Other’s Series. Written by Anne Bishop. Published March 2013 by ROC Books.
If you are only going to take a chance on one urban fantasy title this year, let Written in Red be the one. It has a unique take on the genre that charmed me to the core while maintaining threads of monstrosity, horror and the comically absurd. This is a fantastic and refreshingly original take on what being a werewolf might be like, on the little absurdities of everyday life and on what being human means.
This is hands down my favourite Urban Fantasy tale of them all so far.
Meg Corbyn is on the run, escaped from a modern equivalent of slavery on the near-earth world of Namid. Here the monsters hold the power and humans live only in small cities and communities and only on the sufferance of the Terra Indigene. Meg is worth a lot of money to some people. She belongs to a small segment of humans who have prophecies when their skin is cut. Prophecies that can fetch a lot of money from the right customer.
She flees a life of captivity and torture and finds refuge among the monsters who treat her more humanely, than the majority of people she’s known until then. Having been brought up in isolation with only second-hand references of life or how to be human, she is uniquely qualified to act as the liaison between the animalistic Others and the terrified humans they interact with.
Simon Wolfgard hesitates to hire a bedraggled human who appears out of a winter storm to inquire about the Human Liaison job. She smells different and she’s lying to him. Not a great start to a job interview. He decides to give her a shot anyway, as they are going through people for that position at an alarming rate. When he discovers her secret and what she is running from it triggers his wolf instincts concerning cages and the right to run free. But is she worth risking a war with the humans over when unscrupulous men demand the return of her as their property.
Despite several of the Others feeling very ambivalent about the new smelly human in their midst and her antics, Meg battles to charm them over and carve out a place for herself in Courtyard in the process breaking through the shell of a heart-broken wolf cub.
When her former owner sends people to retrieve his ‘stolen’ valuables, her status as one of their own is cemented as werewolves, vampires and elementals come together to defend their community in truly epic show downs of magical badassery and horror filled demises.
Bishop lays the foundations in her first book to a wondrous and horror filled world where monkeys cower at the feet of capricious giants. Where the monsters are real and monstrous on their own terms. Scary, like a tornado or an angry tiger is scary, and with as much humanity as either of those are in possession of.
The world she has created for this series is one where constant threat breeds resentments on both sides and where death can come on the whim of something that was never human to begin with. Her depictions of animal behaviour and reaction are so spot on in many cases I chuckled out loud more than once. She certainly knows her canine and avian behaviour well!
If you have never read an urban fantasy book before but you love and know your dog’s behavior patterns, you will enjoy this story where werewolves are more animal than people with all that entails.
So what’s with all the crow fan art in this piece you ask? It is one of the many little side plots that form the stream of Meg coaxing acceptance out of the wild things she is among. I guarantee you will love the crows and their avian fascination with ‘the Meg’.
Read an excerpt at: AnneBishop.com
TLDR: Snow White and the Seven Grumpy Werewolves combats evil with her little helpers the Crows, the Vampires and the Elementals.