Written in Red by Anne Bishop
As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.
Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.
I’ll start this review by saying urban fantasy is really up my street, but I am also quite picky with it (so for example, I’ve read Twilight but didn’t like it). I don’t want the urban fantasy to be an excuse to wrap some high school drama or some romance and love triangles and make it ‘cool’.
Written in Red thankfully doesn’t fall into any of those categories. There is little to no romance involved (there is romance in the sense of others have it, it exists, whatever, but it isn’t exactly the main thing in the plot or the important thing about Meg or Simon), no annoying love triangles *chorus of aleluyas* and no romanticising the Others.
The story happens in an alternative Earth where humans and Others (vampires, werewolves, elementals, and many others) coexist with the uper hand being on the Others.
Meg kind of stumbles into the Courtyard and realises she can ask for a job there and be given a place to stay, an income and some sort of anonimity which is exactly what she needs. Being a blood prophet, Meg has little knowledge of how the world actually works or who she is, and she has just escaped her limited life.
This whole “discovering the world and who I am” bit could have gone very wrong, but somehow there is something adoring about Meg doing it, without it being unrealistic or annoying. It seemed legit on how she navigated the world, and the way she interacted with the Others in the Courtyard (the beauty of not really having any prejudices).
There are several subplots going on here, which tie up nicely around Meg and that she inadvertely either stumbles upon or triggers off.
There is the annoying would-be actress with her own agenda to push that keeps trying to befriend Meg and find out more about the Others. I kept wanting to wring her neck but even though you as a reader can see her purposes from miles away, it is also true that mostly no one else would’ve given the circumstances.
There is also the cutest subplot that involves Sam, Simon’s nephew and a “safety line for adventurers” leash which causes mixed reactions and some interesting drama. But all I wanted was to hug Sam and have him over to my house.
Another subplot is the sickness affecting the Others in the North and without adding spoilers, the way it is tied up so that you could just be content with reading this one book and not go to read the next was quite crafty and oh so simple.
Then there is obviously being introduced to several kinds of Others and how they interact with each other and also how they discover humanity and “tolerate it”.
On a subtle way, the book touches on cutting and other mental health issues, friendship, humanity, brutality and violence, how people can be manipulated, kindness, and all wrapped up nicely into a beautiful urban fantasy rich in detail.
I have to admit I had bought this thinking it’d be not so good, but as soon as I finished it I ended up ordering the next books (one is only in hardback so I am waiting to get it in paperback and the next one isn’t out yet).
If you like urban fantasy I’d recommned you look into Jim Butcher’s books and The Dresden Files (warning, there are so many of them but they are fun to read). Or you can try Patricia Briggs, she has several series one including a werecoyote (Mercy Series). Or maybe you want to go further back in time and read The Riddle of the Wren by Charles de Lint (2002-09-16) who is considered the father of urban fantasy.
Props on picture are a red envelope from a generic card, the same puzzle used for the What is your favourite book? post, Beast Funko Pop, Miss Peregrine’s falcon also from Funko Pop (it came with Miss Peregrine) and a swan feather quill made by yours truly during my reenactment times (Enlighs Civil War).
Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.