Written in Red
by Anne Bishop is definitely going on to my keeper shelf (once I actually buy my own copy!). I have long been a fan of this exquisitely talented author (the Black Jewels series and its attendant spinoffs are some of my favorite books and take up quite a bit of space on my bookshelves...darkly erotic paranormal books with such yummy males!) although I still kick myself for donating the Tir Alainn books to one of my local libraries in a fit of generosity, lol. The Ephemera series wasn't quite as mesmerizing to me until I got to Bridge of Dreams which I found to be an amazing end to the trilogy. I digress.
I started reading this book relatively late in the evening, thinking I would read for half an hour and pick it up the next day, especially since I knew I would have to be up early to get on the nutty freeways and one wants to be alert for that gauntlet. Hah! I finally had to force myself to turn out the light in the VERY wee hours of the morning but I gladly paid the price with my bleary eyes and fuzzy thinking...and I am still caught up re-reading passages. Wow, what a wonderfully creative and NOVEL way of looking at shapeshifters and other creatures.
The premise is that the human form is something foreign to these shapeshifters and beings called the terra indigene who are also known as Others and they consider humans as prey...and use the pejorative 'monkey' to describe them even though they reluctantly assume those shapes in order to interact with humans. They have set aside sections of the world for humans to exist in but there is no doubt who is at the top of the food chain, literally.
The main character is a Wolf named Simon who has no cause to love humans, especially since his sister was killed and he has had custody of her traumatized son ever since. The uninvited intrusion from a human woman unlike any he has ever known is complicated by her special powers and her own handicaps. Being a human whose knowledge has always been imparted second-hand rather than experienced directly both handicaps Meg yet frees her from preconceived notions, a state which fascinates and confounds those around her. The remarkable amalgam of Wolves, Crows, Owls, a Coyote, Vampires, Hawks, a Grizzly and Elementals form a community of beings which can learn just as much from as it can teach the young human who integrates herself into their lives yet may bring enough danger to them that the world will change into a far scarier place if a balance cannot be achieved.
This is a book that one should not pick up unless one has plenty of time to read because it is absolutely enthralling. This author is always able to create a very complex world that is peopled by characters who are alien yet whose motives can be understood. The dark imagery that she created for her other series is evoked yet again as the issues experienced by beings of immense powers clashes with very human emotions and desires. There are such intriguing pictures, including an explosive situation created by the unintended insult of using something created by humans for use with a dog when interacting with Wolves, a pony named Thunder stamping its foot in a demand for sugar and disturbing the entire neighborhood, the sibling rivalry between Elementals. Yum, such a richly textured tale...that can (and undoubtedly will be) read over and over again with new revelations on every visit. I just know that if I ever see the sign 'special meat'...that is a place that I will carefully avoid and not make eye contact with anyone in the neighborhood, lol.
I am carefully savoring the copy I checked out from my local library but I REALLY want to get my own...and will have to rectify that lack before the sequel comes out next year as I will want to read it again at least once before the next episode!