Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Roc on March 7, 2017
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop returns to her world of the Others, as humans struggle to survive in the shadow of shapeshifters and vampires far more powerful than themselves…
After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung. And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness…
As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.
With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave.
The fifth book in Anne Bishop’s wholly original series The Others, ETCHED IN BONE delivers on all the promise of the series: a dark yet hopeful story, the finale beautifully ties all the disparate threads of the series together. Many seemingly unconnected – or even forgotten – threads come together and are resolved, and while their conclusion was hardly neat (more like gory), it was certainly satisfying.
Throughout the series, readers have seen how the Others, shifters and other creatures who can appear human, have gradually opened up their community of Lakeside to include human beings. The two groups have alternately meshed and clashed, all thanks to one woman who belongs to neither group. As a cassandra sangue, Meg is able to speak prophecies and see into the future when she cuts her skin, visions that have helped her friends avoid disaster time and time again. But cassandra sangue can only survive so many cuts on their skin, so Meg must discover a new way to speak prophecy whilst battling her addition to cutting.
Seeing Meg experiment with different ways of looking into the future has been really interesting and rewarding: it’s given Meg the confidence to both stand on her own and accept help, and stick up for herself when she feels her friends are coddling her. It’s been a long, slow journey, and while the work certainly isn’t done, Meg has really come into her own and become more autonomous in ETCHED IN BONE.
As always, the development of interpersonal relationships between the characters was beautifully done. Anne Bishop has a remarkable talent for writing huge ensemble casts and making each character come to life, even when we never read from their perspective. The various miscommunications between the humans and Others and the resulting confusion is at times dangerous for all involved, but it can also be funny; the series is infused with a sly sense of humour that helps break up the tension and lightens up the admittedly quite dark world these characters are living in. While there are some pretty major differences between Others and humans, the beauty of ETCHED IN BONE is seeing fan favourites Simon, Vlad, and Tess realize that it’s the similarities between the two groups that really matter in the end.
There’s not much I can say about the plot of this one without spoiling anything, so I’ll just say this: the big bad in this story was truly repulsive and I loathed him more than any other villains I’ve come across in recent memory. Watching Others and humans – especially Meg and Simon – work against him was made all the more satisfying because of how much I despised him. Then again, basically any time Meg and Simon were on page together I was squealing. Their friendship and its ripple effect among the Others and human groups alike has literally shaped the future of humans across the entire continent of Thaisia (North America). If that isn’t the stuff of an epic slow burn romance, then I don’t know what is! Needless to say, I loved every second of their interaction.
If you think you’d like complex world building, a distinctly rural-feeling breed of urban fantasy, and compelling characters, then you’ll love ETCHED IN BONE. So hurry up and get caught up on this series already, because I need to flail about my OTP!