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Written In Red by Anne Bishop

"Get this into your head, Meg Corbyn. We don't let humans live in our part of the world because we like you. We let you live here because you can be useful, and you've invented things we like having. If it wasn't for that, you'd all be nothing but meat. Which is something you should remember.
Perhaps this day of exasperating consumerism isn't the most suitable day to talk about my time spent with Written In Red but I've been waiting for days to harp on its magnificence, so you'll just have to pardon me.

I started this tale of gripping world-building and heartwarming characters on March 9th... and I just finished it this past Thursday at 2:13am. So you can imagine how creative my frustration-born snarls were this past month at every bold intruder seeking to thwart my slow yet heady race to the elusive finish line. All kinds of distractions crept into my days so that every time I was forced to put the book down, I'd turn a little more of my frustration onto the read instead of blaming my goshdamn life. To the point where I suddenly began to dread re-immersing myself only to have the story remind me how misguided my misery truly was.

You see, in the abstract and technical sense Written In Red shouldn't have appealed to me in the least. I like whimsy and beauty in my writing, less intimidating page length in my book, and a little more obvious romance among my characters because obviously I'm an easily intimidated fanciful hussy like that. So when I was faced with practical, straightforward writing, a whopping 450+ pages, and a smidgen of romance, I expected to find myself printing a return label at the end of this very long, unattractive tunnel.

Instead I'm gazing at it reverently, utterly content with the story I was met with. A story in which I discovered a winding love for a female protagonist who somehow balances kindness, ignorance, and spine without irritating or disenchanting me, for a slew of secondary characters who steadily grew on me in spite of, or maybe because of, their scope, and a world built upon layer after fascinating layer that I got to explore thoroughly. It isn't everyday you can enjoy all those qualities in such a long book and still come out beautifully moved and wholly entertained.

And it all began with the mention of an H.L.D.N.A sign (Human Law Does Not Apply).

"I talked to the members of the Business Association and we all agree that while the woman in the wanted poster bears a strong resemblance to our Liason, they are not the same person."
Monty opened his mouth to disagree, then realized there was no point. Wolfgard knew perfectly well that Meg Corbyn was the woman on the wanted poster.
"We have, of course, taken precautions. Meg Corbyn is now residing in the Green Complex, where safe access is only possible by prior arrangement. I live there. So does Vladimir Sanguinati and Henry Beargard."
Message understood. No one who tried to reach Meg Corbyn when she was asleep or otherwise vulnerable would survive.
Then his face took on a feral look that was terrible to see on an otherwise human face. "Human law doesn't apply in the Courtyard, Lieutenant. No matter what anyone else thinks, Meg Corbyn is ours now--and we protect our own. You make sure you send that message back to whoever made the poster."

Now the Grandfather of the Sanguinatti wishes for Meg the sweetblood to be treated with care. She had thought of the evergreens instead of summer green when she gifted a scarf to Winter, who wears it happily. She remembers library requests and old movie deliveries and treats for the ponies who deliver the mail. She both irritates and calms Simon Wolfgard, coaxes his nephew away from his fear and trauma, and gives the Coyote, the Crows, and the Hawks entertainment every morning. Eating Tess's meals and indulging Jenni the Crow who likes the shiny things and enjoying Henry the Bear's music. It's all the things she thoughtfully does for the various inhuman creatures that surround her that bridge the connection between the two coexisting species whom had never fully understood one another before and now had a better chance of doing so.

Meg is the gateway to trust and respect on both sides, and maybe even affection. Witnessing this slow progression of change is entrancing and amazingly inspiring. It's happy, even among all the viciousness that does and must play out to maintain order. Normal and queer, brave and shy, innocent and tough, Meg makes me want to jump straight into Murder of Crows even after this tormenting month. Because she's the heart of this story, and everyone the heart touches comes alive on the page.

And if I hadn't already committed to reading Anne Bishop's Black Jewels this would've sealed the deal. But my commitment was made when I bought the omnibus for the trilogy several months ago, so I'll just settle for saying that reading this made me want to start quicker than anticipated.

Massmarket Paperback / 487 pgs / March 5th 2013 / Roc Penguin / Goodreads / $7.99

My copy was purchased from Amazon.com.

What did I rate Written In Red?
fooloveratook 's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)


Marathon said...

I've been hearing excellent things about this series, and while it doesn't sound like my sort of read, I still want to give it a go!

Sorry about it taking you so long and life getting in the way of your reading time, I hope you find more chances to read!

Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

Marathon said...

Do It

Marathon said...

I'm a long time romance reader and have many authors I read. I also read fantasy, sci-fi and paranormal. I have over 3000 books on my kindle. But Anne Bishop is in a class by herself. I started with the Black Jewels Trilogy, moved on from there. Her other worlds are also incredible but I think the world of The Others is going to be my favorite. Written Red was an amazing book, Murder of Crows just kept it going and Vision in Silver is 11 months away but I have no doubt it will continue the growth of world of the Others. You can't just call them series - she creates worlds and populates them with the most interesting characters.

Marathon said...

isn't it just amazing?

Marathon said...

Mands!!! I actually think you might enjoy this one because of how thoroughly everything was thought out and how wonderful the charactrs are.

yeah it's been a pretty crazy past couple of months but I'm finding my rhythmn again and reading pretty regularly which is awesome!

Marathon said...

Same goes, and I'm happy that I get to add Anne Bishop to my auto-buy authors list. I was already planning to read The Black Jewels Trilogy this summer but I ddon't think I can wait to enjoy something of hers. But oh, the Others series is rapidly becoming one of my all time faves. I even got my mom hooked onto it who is super PICKY. Indeed, these ARE worlds and that's why the read is so damn engrossing. Just finished Murder of Crows and loved it even more!

Marathon said...

The Tir Alainn books are also keepers. I can't remember the world that BellaDonna and Sebastion are set in, but they were good too. But not like The Others.

Marathon said...

Ah, thanks for the tip!! I'm glad to have more to explore!!

Marathon said...

This was a beautiful review on one of my new favorite author/series. I can't wait to read your review for Murder of Crows, which IMO, gets better and better with each re-reading. :)