Time for a book review! …Well, a SERIES review.
First off, a big thanks to Miki for suggesting this series to me—Anne Bishop’s The Others series is by far the best urban fantasy series I’ve read in a long time. It’s totally addictive, and I flew through all five books of it that have been written so far in a matter of a couple of weeks.
WHAT I LIKED:
Just about everything! The worldbuilding was spectacular. The “others”—shifters, vampires, elementals (and then the “old ones,” who never interact with humans but pretty much rule the world) are in control and the humans, well, are not. But they badly want to be. So there’s a strong built-in tension between human and Other.
The heroine, Meg Corbyn, is a Cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, who has made a rare escape from an institution where girls like her are raised and kept—even bred. When she is cut, with her blood is released a prophecy in answer to a question. Otherwise, she’s human. So she takes refuge in the Lakeside Courtyard, an Other-controlled district where the others have allowed a larger human city to be built up around it. Fairly rare in the U.S. version of this world.
There’s a slow-developing relationship between Meg and the Alpha of the Lakeside Courtyard, Simon, who is a werewolf (although there are shifters and vampires there as well, and the alphas aren’t always wolves).
As the series progresses, the relationships between the humans and Others slowly deteriorates, even more so in Europe than in the U.S., but enough to definitely pose a threat to the Lakeside Courtyard. Meg is especially vulnerable—blood prophets have only so many cuts/prophecies in them before it kills them, and most get addicted to the highs from it—and the whole courtyard are protective of her. The way they work with each other, species to species, and with Meg, and with some human police officers who, through Meg, are able to create relationships with the Others of the courtyard—it’s all fascinating, with plenty of action and complications.
The characters are all great—from the gossipy crows who are attracted to shiny baubles, to the grouchy werewolves, the mysterious vampires who can take on the form of smoke, to the uncommon and unidentified. It’s a unique twist on the urban fantasy worlds we see so often, and definitely on my must-read/keeper list!
WHAT I LIKED LESS:
There wasn’t a whole lot I didn’t like, to be honest. I thought the fourth book, which spread out and took us to more areas away from the Lakeside Courtyard, was my least favorite, but by book five we were firmly back with Simon and Meg and the Others in the Courtyard.
While Book 5 was a great read, I was a little bothered—especially with what’s going on around us in the U.S. these days—that the dumb bad guy of the novel played into racial stereotypes for black men, from the criminal record to the ‘ho’ girlfriend to the neglected children. I should note that other characters of color in the series—the brother of the criminal in question, who is THE major human character of the series–are absolutely heroic and great. I just hated to see the stereotyping. It was only in part of that one book, however, and it far from ruined the series for me.
Okay, the REAL thing I didn’t like….book five is the last one, as far as I know, that will focus on the Lakeside Courtyard with Simon/Meg at its center. Book Six, coming in March, will focus on different areas and characters in the Others world….but I’ll still be reading!
Anyone else read The Others series? What did you think. Me? This was a rare FIVE GATOR series!