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Saturday, March 15, 2014

'Murder of Crows' The Others #2 by Anne Bishop


From the BLURB:

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.


The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside's shape-shifting leader—wonders whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future threat.


As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.


Jar of honey.


Hide the children.


Sharks.


Fin.


Hide the children.


Feathers.


Meat.


Hide the children.


It’s only been a few months since Meg Corbyn entered the Lakeside Courtyard and became the first human to break all the Others’ rules. As human liaison Meg managed to befriend everyone – from the vampires to the Crowguard, the elementals and mysterious Other, Tess … but especially the Wolves. Forming a close bond with pup Sam, Meg became his closest friend and eventually formed a close friendship with Lakeside leader, Simon Wolfguard.


Since she arrived in the dead of night, during a terrible storm, Meg and the Others have slowly come to understand what she is that’s so compelling and not-prey: cassandra sangue, a prophet who was kept in a compound with other girls who are made to cut their skin, for a hefty price, in order to see the future. But Meg got away, and settling into Lakeside has changed her life.


Until the visions she has foretell of danger at every turn.


Some humans are turning on the Others, and the HFL (Humans First and Last movement) is gaining dangerous momentum. Meg sees visions of the Crows being poisoned, and a stranger coming to Lakeside … Hide the children. 


‘Murder of Crows’ is the second book in Anne Bishop’s marvellous ‘The Others’ series.


Last year, Anne Bishop’s first book ‘Written in Red’ took me completely by surprise. I delved into her ‘The Others’ series, based purely on the rave reviews I’d been reading on Goodreads and book blogs – everyone telling me I had to give this book a read and discover a wonderful, complex new urban fantasy series. Boy, they weren’t wrong – and with this second book, Anne Bishop gives readers a bare hint at the long road ahead for Meg, Simon and the entire Lakeside Courtyard in the complex, dazzling world of ‘The Others’.


‘Murder of Crows’ picks up very soon after ‘Written in Red’, and a few horrors from that first book are mentioned and go a long way to creating this atmosphere of fear on the precipice as more dangerous events unfold for the Others. Simon is still concerned that someone tried to take Meg and Sam, human police officers are still speculating over how Asia Crane died … and the wider human community are becoming reckless and courting danger, particularly with this Humans First and Last movement. When Meg starts having visions (and succumbs to her need to cut, tingling under her skin warning that she has a prophecy to tell) it all but confirms that change is in the air, and a war may be imminent. 


A large focus of this book is on Meg as a cassandra sangue – the Courtyard become concerned with finding The Controller who kept Meg and a cartel of other female prophets in an unknown location, and human doctors who helped Meg during ‘Written in Red’ are wanting to study her kind, and try to discover if she can live a relatively “normal” life without dying from cutting, or succumbing to the madness of prophecy. 


Another big tease (certainly not a consuming focus, but it’s on the periphery) is Simon and Meg’s changing relationship. There’s a big to-do made about the fact that Simon changed into his human form one night, while sleeping with Meg as Wolf – this shifts their dynamic, and has Meg questioning how she feels for Simon and vice-versa. She’s trying to sort out her complex emotions over Simon as Wolf sleeping with her, and Simon the man. Simon, meanwhile, only knows that he likes cuddling up to Meg on the couch and watching movies, when he’s Wolf and she pats his fur. He likes licking her fingers clean of butter popcorn, he misses her when they’ve not spoken for a while and her scent is calming. But, Others are warning Simon not to become “too human” and there is an underlying warning that Meg being cassandra sangue (thought to have only 1000 cuts before she dies or goes mad) may be a tricky companion … never mind that an Other and a human having anything deeper than a sexual dalliance is all but unheard of.


I’m really enjoying the gentle teasing of this relationship between Simon and Meg. Readers and plenty of secondary characters may already know what’s unfolding between them, but there’s real joy in reading how slowly they’re both figuring themselves and each other out. Unlike most Urban Fantasy series, I’m not at all concerned about this romance being such a slow burn – it’s indicative of their characters, the tensions in this world and acts as an occasionally nice reprieve in a story that’s so focused on dangerous politics, incredible creatures and human depravity; 



What did they say? Tess asked the Crows who were perched on the roof. They, too, were watching.
They say the Merry Lee is a Wolf lover and is going to get what she deserves, Jake replied. Is the Merri Lee having sex with a Wolf?
It wouldn’t be Simon, Jenni said. Simon likes our Meg. A pause. Do Simon and Meg have sex after they play?
No, Tess said firmly. Simon’s relationship with Meg was too complex for anything as simple as sex. And asking about that will upset Meg.

‘Murder of Crows’ has many gut-churning, horrible scenes and realizations – about how the humans are retaliating against the Others, how Meg and other cassandra sangue have been treated and how factions of humans are turning on those who they see as siding with the Others. This book certainly marks a transition in Anne Bishop’s world, where violence is in the air and something is going to break very, very soon. This book has me even more intrigued about ‘The Others’ series. 


And while there’s lots of dark foreboding in this instalment, Bishop also writes brevity very well, particularly where Others and humans diverge; 



He paused in the doorway. “Human females. They’re kind of crazy during this time, aren’t they?” 
“If you choose to believe the stories written by male writers,” Vlad replied. 
They heard a bang and thump from the kitchen, followed by Meg yelling at something.Simon sighed. “That many males can’t be wrong.” 

If there was any aspect of this book that felt lacking to me, it was in missing the character of Sam, and not being able to see his and Meg’s relationship unfold along with everyone else’s. I completely understand why, after wanting to be in a cage for so long, young Sam should be with other pups – but I missed him having a big role in Meg’s life, and felt like that was one layer of Meg’s new world that needed to be revisited in this second book. 


Anne Bishop’s ‘The Others’ series is certainly one of the most compelling new additions to the urban fantasy realm, and a must-read for anyone who craves fantastical stories … but also for people who are new to fantasy but are not keen on the latest spate of erotica vampires/werewolves etc. Anne Bishop’s world is complex and darkening, her characters are loveable and fascinating, and their relationships are being subtly teased out along with this vastly dangerous and layered universe.


4.5/5 





2 comments:

  1. This is the new release book that I am most excited about reading soon! Can't wait to go back to this world.

    I thought I was past the whole UF thing but I will be making exceptions for this series.

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    1. Yes! This was one of my most-anticipated books for 2014, and Bishop does not disappoint! I was getting a bit over UF too, but she does it SO WELL and taking the erotica out of it, amping up the fantasy/horror makes this a very unique new UF series.

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