Meg Corbyn is a blood prophet. When her skin is cut, she can see the future. There are people (the Walking Names) who abuse her power for their own financial gain, but Meg escapes from them and finds sanctuary with the terra indigene–a.k.a. things that go bump in the night. She gets hired to be their human liaison and is safe with them because human law doesn’t apply to their side of town. As she adjusts to life in the outside world, she struggles to hide from the Walking Names and survive when it becomes apparent that she’s working for the man she foresaw killing her.
The world of Written in Red absolutely hooked me from the first pages. The concept of an alternate reality where “monsters” rule North America and humans are just allowed to live there because they bring technology (and their own meat) with them is just so cool. In this book, all humans are aware of vampires and werewolves and other creatures that go bump in the night. Of course, most try to forget that they are an expendable food source–only allowed to live because the terra indigene currently accept their presence.
The author, Anne Bishop’s world-building definitely brought her alternate universe to life. I loved how everything was slowly revealed throughout the story, and I couldn’t help but get excited over all the hints of what’s to come in future books. There’s a plague sweeping the western part of Thaisia, for example, and there are still the mystery of the Walking Names to deal with.
The creation of terra indigene brought to life spookier versions of werewolves, vampires, and other monsters than I’ve often seen in these sorts of books. These “monsters” had no qualms about killing humans–to the point that they’d destroy entire towns if they felt it was necessary. The terra indigene characters in the book only tolerated humans because they wanted to try to create a mutually beneficial society. They didn’t so much care about human beings as what they could get from living beside them.
This often meant that people were being killed and eaten at various points in the story.
But, for a novel with extreme and bloody violence, there was an awful lot of cuteness going on. There were crows obsessed with shiny things, ponies having hissy fits over not being given sugar cubes, and wolves enjoying their dog beds more than any proud monster should. I adored the juxtaposition. There was a bunch of humor in Written in Red, and I was surprised at how much I giggled over the terra indigene‘s less violent antics throughout the book.
As for the characters, there wasn’t a single one that I didn’t like (okay, except Asia the villain). Meg, though, made an interesting protagonist. She knew nothing about the outside world since she had been locked away most of her life. She experienced everything related to humans and terra indigene for the first time–making her the perfect character to introduce the reader to the world of the Others (another name for the terra indigene). Meg tended to bring out the best in all of the characters around her so it was really her that made all of the Others seem kind and personable in spite of being creatures who would eat you without a second thought.
Also, Meg and Simon the wolf’s tender interactions in the book were sweet and in keeping with the characters. These two weren’t going to be the sort to get caught up in an epic, passion-filled romance from the moment they met. I liked that there is just a glimmer of attraction in this book. They like each other and trust each other, but they still don’t quite know where they stand since one of them is a blood prophet and the other is a wolf. I look forward to seeing their romance grow in the next books.
Even though I liked Meg a lot, my favorite character had to be Tess. She was the deadliest Other in the town, but she also owned a restaurant (and baked!) and made an unlikely friendship with Meg. I’d love to see more of her in the rest of the series. I’m sure her past is absolutely fascinating and it would be cool to see just how much a force to be reckoned with she could be. (I don’t want to spoil too much about her so that’s all I’ll say!)
If you like Urban Fantasy and wonderful world-building, this book is one you should check out. I loved it and can’t wait to pick up the next in the series.
What “monster” is your favorite to read about? Vampires, werewolves, or something else?
Cover Photo from Goodreads.