Book 1 in The Others series
First published in 2013
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
Image from Goodreads
The Short Of It:
This was one of those books that sucks you into a richly detailed fictional world and makes you want to stay there forever. I am totally in love with Meg and all her (mostly supernatural) new friends at Lakeside Courtyard, and I'm excited to dive into the second book in the series!
The Long Of It:
I would never have picked up "Written in Red" on my own, but I saw it on so many other blogs that I decided to give it a try -- and I am SO glad I did!
"Written in Red" is our world reimagined, where humans live in a perpetually tenuous relationship with the Others -- supernatural beings like shapeshifters, vampires and Elementals who can control things like water and air. On a cold and snowy night, Meg Corbyn is on the run -- and her saving grace is a flyer advertising a job for a human liaison to work in Lakeside Courtyard, the part of town run and occupied by the Others; it's a place where human law doesn't apply and she knows she'll be safe from her pursuers there.
What she doesn't count on is making such instant friendships with the Others -- and they don't expect to befriend her either, but there's something different about Meg from other humans. Meg also never imagines that working as a human liaison -- which mainly consists of taking deliveries and distributing mail -- would provide the perfect opportunity for her to find herself and discover an identity she's never been allowed to know. When Meg's dark past catches up with her, the residents of the Courtyard -- whose friendliness with Meg belies their inherent power, danger and dislike of humans -- must band together to protect a human they now consider one of their own.
"Written in Red" has a cozy small-town atmosphere to it and the setting was so incredibly immersive. Bishop is masterful at worldbuilding; it's been a while since I've read such a richly imagined and detailed novel. I have a terrible memory and often start forgetting the details of a book the second I close the back cover, but two weeks later I still remember everything about Meg and all the other residents of Lakeside Courtyard.
I loved getting to know the Wolves, Hawks, Crows, Owls, Bears, vampires and other inhabitants of the Courtyard. Simon Wolfgard is Meg's boss and runs the Howling Good Reads bookstore, and Tess -- an Other whose hair changes color with her moods -- owns A Little Bite Cafe. Erebus is an extremely old and scary vampire, head of the Lakeside Sanguinatis; he takes a rather surprising to Meg, who cares enough to hand-deliver the old movies he receives in the mail. Henry Beargard is the Courtyard's spirit guide as well as a woodworker with a shop next to Meg's office. And Jester is a Wolf who runs the stables and cares for the weather ponies (a delightful aspect to the story!). The Lakeside Courtyard is its own little snug and safe community and I'd love to switch places with Meg for a bit -- though I definitely wouldn't want her special power or the terrible past she escaped from.
My only complaint about "Written in Red" is that the writing could've been a tad stronger. It was hardly unreadable, but I'm a stickler for things like word choice and sentence structure and there were a few times I wanted to bop the author over the head with a thesaurus. And, while adequate, there was really nothing special about her writing. That issue is the only reason I didn't give the book 5 stars, and it didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the story because the plot is so fantastic. There are three more books out and a final one to come in March, and I will most definitely be reading them all! I'm reading something else right now, and it's good, but I find myself wanting to get back to Lakeside and Meg and the wonderfully eclectic and dangerous Others.