Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Roc
Released on March 5, 2013
Ever have a book that you have come to late, seen all the descriptions and praise, and just smiled in anticipation because you know that you are part of that target audience who are just going to love it through and through- hugging the Kindle to you and sighing contentedly. That was me and… I did indeed love this one- one, no two eyerolls, but for the most part, loved it.
Written in Red is the first book and introduces a dark, well crafted world. Humans are prey and the Others are not humans who get furry or sprout fangs. I do love when my monsters get to act like monsters so I sighed with happiness at the first sign that a human being stupid got eaten with relish and a little seasoning (okay, teasing about the seasoning).
The story begins with a brief explanation of the fantasy world which has some commonalities with earth, but all the power and magic and ruthless strength go to the non-humans who see the humans as little more than upright animals with opposable thumbs and cool gadgets.
The first chapter introduces a mysterious woman fleeing danger and choosing the Others’ compound as the lesser of two evils. Meg applies for the job of Liaison between the Others and humans. In essence she is a glorified mail room clerk and postal delivery person now. This may seem comical, but the Others do a lot of mail orders to avoid contact with the human ‘monkeys’. And, the Others’ Courtyard in the boundary of the human city near the great lake is a clearing house for all the Others who live out in the Wild and away from human settlements.
This Lakeside Courtyard is the big experiment run by Simon Wolfgard. He has hired a few humans and opened a few businesses to human customers to see how it works to allow this limited interaction between humans and Others. Something about Meg had him hiring her on the spot though she has no skill or experience. He doesn’t know why the shivering, bedraggled human tempted him to this impetuous action, but he is riled up because she doesn’t smell like prey and she has secrets. She’s running from something.
And, the something has found her. Meg ran away from an institution where she was prized as a commodity rather than a person and she wants more, but she has to stay free. Human law doesn’t apply in the Others’ Courtyard so she begs a job to buy her some time in her flight from her handler. She has foreseen her own death and now just wants to live life to the fullest. She has no idea how and has to feel her way working and living among beasts, vampires, and elementals who can take on human skin.
It is the humans who are the most danger to her and trouble is coming from more than one direction. Simon learns Megs’ secrets about the time he learns of the danger, but she has brought little Sam out of his two year silence and won the friendship of many in the Courtyard with her winsome ways. She is theirs and they will protect her.
Much of this book was very much the usual first in series introductions and getting the plot underway. It was not tedious and was interspersed with some action and nice moments of suspense. The intro to the larger cast of characters was neatly handled as were the switches in point of view between a half dozen characters with Meg and Simon getting the front stage much of the time.
I thought it was both a good use of humor and a way of describing the true differences between humans and Others when the Others had these headscratching moments over human conversations and actions. This actually explains a little why they figure out a certain human is acting suspicious, but she manages to stay ahead of them for quite a while because they can’t get a fix on what she’s up to. Personally, I thought, given how they handle stuff, that they should have just chomp-chomped the first time she crossed the line instead of the half-dozen chances she got to wreck havoc. Unfortunately, they start acting out of character as soon as poor Meg who might not like them eating the humans is installed.
Meg was my one big niggle. I liked Meg and liked that she was a bit of something different in some ways, but also felt she was something of a Mary Sue figure. The moving and shaking happens around her and with little time or effort, she suddenly has everyone’s liking and loyalty. She wins over monsters who eat human for breakfast just by dropping off their mail and saying ‘good morning’. She sweet talks a grieving and traumatized wolf pup out silence, out of his hidey spot, and into a shift in a couple of encounters. Good on her (I love that she is kind- I really do), but that shouldn’t have impressed the big baddies much especially since her arrival signals quite a bit of trouble and bother for them. Her winning over the whole Lakeside Courtyard in a few days was far-fetched, but I am willing to get past that and see where this series is going. I think Meg will grow on me now that I’m past the intro.
Simon was a fun cranky wolf character, but it was Henry the spirit bear grizzily, the ponies who are more than they seem, and the mysterious Tess that even the monsters tip-toed around that I enjoyed most. Actually, I liked everyone, including Meg, who lived in the Courtyard.
The last chapters were page-turners and I could barely breathe. I loved seeing the Others rise up in fury to show who and what they really are. Meg’s worth to the hidden bad guy along with humans who are arrogant and greedy enough to buck the system are going to make this ongoing series stay exciting.
So, I loved my first outing with this series and its fresh take on paranormals and fantasy. I am definitely going forward with the series. Oh, and yes, if you were sandbagging like me and love urban fantasy or low fantasy, snag it when you get the chance.
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