Written in Red by Anne BishopWritten Red by Anne Bishop
Series: The Others #1
Published by Roc on March 5th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 487
Goodreads

No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans.

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.

4 Stars

Though Written in Red is not without its bumps, it is a riveting first instalment to a paranormal series with diverse characters and a slow burn romance. Buddy read with my lovely friend Simona. What better friend to gush with over Simon, eh?

To be honest, I had weak knees going into Written in Red. Paranormal books are those I’ve been prejudiced about since Twilight, and unfairly so. With books featuring shapeshifters, my old wrinkles immediately wrinkle a little more, and I’m always thinking: Oh, this is probably yet another book I would’ve loved a few years ago (which was the case with Angelfall btw). Yet again, I had high expectations due to the enormous hype, as this book was impossible to miss on the social media and in the book communities, and a majority has been raving about it. Let’s say: I was positively surprised. 

A second sign was taped to the inside of the door. She stared at it for a long time, despite her numb feet and the freezing temperature.
WANTED:
HUMAN LIAISON
APPLY AT HOWLING GOOD READS
(AROUND THE CORNER)

There are two reasons I would apply for this job:
1. I’d work at a bookstore called Howling Good Reads.
2. Simon.

FYI: Simon is basically my shapeshifter dreamboat. Terra indigene Wolf, shapeshifter, leader of the pack, fluffly sweetheart. And I will freely admit that a huge part of my enjoyment of this book was due to Simon’s quirky little self.

Where do we start

The books starts out with the main character Meg fleeing her captors in a blizzard and finding shelter in the Courtyard, a part of the city governed by the Terra indigene (= shapeshifters and… other creatures). Human law does not apply in the Courtyard, which makes it a good place to find cover for the runaway.

What made me enjoy this book so much

Meg is a sweet and innocent main character who will grow on you from the first chapter. She has a special gift, which is why she had been locked up for most of her life until she ran away. Frankly, she’s new to all things human – for example, she doesn’t know how to use a microwave. Other things, like driving a car, she has only ever seen on a screen, which is why her chapters also focus a lot on how she deals with everyday life. Her innocence, and therefore lack of fear, is what has her get along well with the residents of the Courtyard. Now, normally, I’d tire of a character like this one after five chapters tops (I like my heroines badass and snarky, I won’t lie). But I think the whole package of Meg – her trauma, her courage, her determination, her physical weakness, and social awkwardness – is what made me like her so much.

☼ There is a rich diversity of characters regarding both appearance and personality. We have several wolves, a few crows, a vampire, spirits, and something I could probably describe closest as a medusa. With the diversity of characters comes a variety of points of view (all in 3rd person). Some of them are also narrated from animal points of view (as in, when Terra indigene shapeshift), which was especially exciting.

SIMON. Have I mentioned how much I love Simon? Yes? Yes. I have a soft spot for love interests who try to resist caring with all their willpower but their little hearts just get the better of them. You’re not sold on him yet? Have I told you how adorably he cares for his little wolfy nephew, Sam? Is your oestrogen level spiking now? Ok, good.

☼ In opposition to YA mainstream, Meg is 24 years old. Adult protagonists can be cool, ya know? Even if she doesn’t exactly behave that way. Furthermore, Meg is not one of those insanely beautiful snowflakes. To the wolf shapeshifters, her dyed red hair stinks, which is hilarious. And her body is scattered with scars.

☼ Speaking of the scars: Meg has an intriguing gift, visions evoked by cutting her skin, which makes her so valuable. I also liked how the author broached the topic off addiction and other consequences with regard to her gift. Whenever Meg has cut, there is an immediate release of tension, and I have no doubt that this parallel between her gift and self-harm committed by psychiatric patients is not a coincidence.

The slow burn romance. Do you see that thing in motion there? That’s my ship setting sail.

“The sweatshirt was big on her and she looked ridiculous. He liked it. And he liked that she was wearing something that carried his scent.”

Where that 5th star went missing

The pacing. The beginning sucked me in but the middle went a little slack there, focusing mostly on Meg’s new life and her first ever friendships. Don’t get me wrong: I devoured this book. I was supposed to read 4 chapters a day and couldn’t stick to it Ask Simona! However, it was like the characters had to literally pull the plot along for a while, and some of Meg’s daily routine was just plain boring. The ending, though, was action-packed. And that little plot twist the author sneaked into the last chapter had me go a little haywire.

☁ The world-building was a mishmash of fantastical and paranormal elements. It seems to take place in an alternative America, so the low fantasy and reality kind of… blur. I would have appreciated it more if the author had either stuck with paranormal or created a completely new and unique universe.

☁ This is just me being a royal, psychological pain in the ass, I know. But I felt mildly bothered by the way little Sam shook off his trauma by befriending Meg. I had a hard enough time believing every single Terra indigene would grow fond of her, I mean, good manners don’t win points with everyone. But trauma is a serious topic, which was – in my opinion – handled or overcome a little too easily. I still love Sam’s and Meg’s friendship, though.

Overall, Written in Red was a refreshing read, one I literally devoured, but I can see why some readers thought it was boring. If you’re not on board with the romance and the little details that Meg discovers in her new life as a normal human, the slower passages might be extremely tedious to push through. This book is certainly not a winner for everyone.