Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars
Written in Red takes place in a modern, alternate reality where Others, or terra indigene, dominate over the humans. Luckily Anne Bishop provides a little “history of the world” introduction to explain things a little. The Others are the ruling faction in Thaisia (what we consider America). In the beginning all that humans were to Others was meat (literally). Over time, the Others have come to understand the usefulness of the humans, and in turn, the humans have become clever in their dealings with Others. Although there is an uneasy truce between them, they both recognize the benefits of each other. Regardless, if a human crosses an Other, you won’t hear from that human again.
Meg is a human, but not just any human she is a cassandra sangue, or a blood prophet. Written in Red opens with Meg running away from the compound where she has been kept since her birth. Cassandra sangue blood is very valuable and so they are kept as property. They don’t get to interact with the outside world. The only reason they receive good education is so they know how to describe their visions. They are provided for in every way. Many would say this is a fair trade for their blood, but not all. Meg has a vision that shows her how to escape, and she takes it, but it also may mean her death.
I was really impressed with the world Bishop created. At first it was a little complicated because it does take place in modern time and I was trying to acclimate it to our world, but it is its own world with its own set of rules. The big cities have courtyards where the Others live and do business so they can enforce the rules. Meg is hired as the liaison because the Others recognize the fact that some humans only want to interact with other humans.
The story moves along at a leisurely pace dealing mainly with Meg and her new role as liaison in the courtyard working her way around the Others. She’s still cassandra sangue, however, and she still has visions. We don’t know when the visions will play themselves out and oftentimes they are little more than a scattering of images. The book builds with the anticipation of when/where we’ll see Meg’s vision come to pass. There’s also the fact that Meg’s former keepers are not happy that she escaped and are willing to go to extreme measures to get her returned.
I liked Meg. She’s naive and vulnerable, but she’s also smart, and this lends itself to her learning the ins and outs of navigating in the courtyard. The Others kind of adopt Meg in their own way and become very protective of her. She brings a freshness to their world because the Others are also unfamiliar with humans. They don’t like to interact too closely with humans and at times it’s endearing and funny to see them trying to accommodate her.
I don’t think I’ve read another shifter book where they were so completely animalistic. They only wear their human skin in order to interact with humans, if they had it their way they would be in their animal form all the time. They are gruesome in that they don’t hide the fact that you will be their food should you choose to break a rule. So it’s interesting to see them become a little more human in the process of learning about “the Meg,” as they sometimes call her.
The story in contained in this book, but there are overall conflicts that will be touched upon as the series goes on. Also, while there is no romance in this book, the potential is there. I look forward to seeing how everything develops.
Sexual content: References to sex