Review From Cocktail Phoenix
Now that I’ve read the book, I’m wondering why on earth it took me so long to pick it up! After all, it has been sitting on my shelf for almost a year…
I found the world quite intriguing, especially the notion of shifters and everything else “Other” being out in the open (sort of) and the idea that humans have much less say in this world than creatures much more in tune with nature.
I liked the writing style a lot. Not only the way in which Bishop portrays the world and weaves threads through the plot but the way descriptions of appearances are put on the backburner in favour of personality and story. I may not have registered it, but I think there was never a description of Jake Crowgard for example other than him playing around with pens – as a crow. But it wasn’t important. It was the characters themselves which were on the forefront.
Meg was a very interesting main character. She is naïve and somewhat clueless in certain respects but she is in no way stupid. A quick learner for sure, she adapts to conditions most humans wouldn’t know how to really deal with, and she worms her way into the heart of creatures who never thought they could care for someone of a species they consider nothing more than meat.
Asia was.. well.. She made a good villain in that she was very annoying and grated on my nerves a lot with her fake attitude. I was a little surprised that Simon didn’t pinpoint what was bugging him about her, but it also made the story more believable. If he had realised what she was up to and had foiled all her plans, it wouldn’t have been the same.
It’s because of those little things, the flaws and the mistakes Simon has made that he seems far more real as a character than he might otherwise have come across. His grumpy personality is amusing though I had a bit of trouble sometimes with really seeing him as the leader of the courtyard. He appeared far too yielding and mellow sometimes. Then again, they all mellowed up where Meg was concerned. Even Tess who didn’t want to have a human girlfriend seems to have come to care quite a bit about their Liaison.
As far as Asia’s intrigue is concerned, I found it a tad annoying that not more was revealed. But of course, I assume that served a purpose since there are more books to come. Meg’s controller is still on the loose as well after all.
Sam’s story was lovely if a little rushed all of a sudden. I got the impression that Meg got to him a little too quickly, but in the end, when I put all the pieces together of what everyone and especially Erebus said about the cassandra sangue, it probably makes sense that Sam would let himself be lured out of his dark hole by someone like Meg, who smells like a child of sorts after all. Someone like him.
I didn’t expect Sam to shift the moment he did however. That came as a nice surprise in the book and it was one of the times that made me tear up, especially because Elliot had just botched things up majorly.
The scene with Meg and the butcher had me in tears of laughter. The stag stick was brilliant. Then there was the Thunder incident that had Elliot’s tail in a twist. (And quite a few more, like Erebus pretending to be an old man with bad hearing.)
But yes, the ponies. Ah the ponies! Such a wonderful addition to the world and the book!
In short, there were moments were I laughed out loud, moments where I teared up, moments where I was struggling along with the characters, fearing what was about to come, and moments where I just wanted to grab some of the characters and hug them. The characters were unique and decently developed for a first book in a series.
And you know the best bit? No insta-love. It felt like a breath of fresh air!
Review from Serenity
To understand how I felt about this book, you first need a little insight into my extremely nerdy history.
Growing up, my dad was into all things DC comics (not Marvel, that’s a bad word in our house, even to this day). So I grew up fluent in all things Superman and Batman related. Now, in Superman, there is a character called “Bizarro” who is basically a reversed Superman. So he shoots freeze rays from his eyes and calls things “bad” instead of “good”. Also, he comes from the planet Htrae (Earth, backward). He is still a hero of sorts, but just totally opposite of the Superman in our world.
Now, what does this all have to do with Written in Red, you ask? Well, for most of the first half of the story I kept feeling like it’s a Bizarro World version of the Mercy Thompson books. Instead of being in hiding, the “Others” (werewolves, vampires, and more) are in fact the leaders of this world. The humans are subject to their laws and whims. Meg herself is like and inverse of Mercy. Mercy is tough and a leader and fights even when she is physically weaker and other people oppose her. Meg is soft, sheltered and wins people over with her innate sweetness. It’s really like Mercy’s world was turned on its head!
As I got further into the book, though, the story itself gripped me so that the comparison to Mercy’s world fell by the wayside. I loved getting into more of the character’s heads than you usually do! We even get to see inside the “bad guy”, which was so fun because I love a good villain. In this book, Asia Crane is the primary antagonist and she is so self-deluded that I couldn’t wait to see her brought down.
The big step setting it apart for me from other stories, though, is the Cassandra Sangue concept. This is what Meg is, and by cutting herself she is able to see the future. This sort of self-mutilation could be hard for some to read, so watch out for that. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, since it’s seen as a good thing for Meg to use her power (when necessary), but Bishop does show that it comes at a cost…so it sort of balances out. But even though I can recognize that logically, inside my psychology degree is screaming “wrong!”.
Overall, I love the world, and I honestly love Meg, so I can’t wait to read the next in the series! 4 Charms.