Audiobook Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: Written in Red by Anne BishopWritten in Red by Anne Bishop
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Length: 18 hrs, 32 mins
Series: The Others #1
Published by Penguin Audio on March 5, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars

No one creates realms like New York Times best-selling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities - vampires and shape-shifters among them - who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans.

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut - a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg's Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard - a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she's keeping a secret, and second, she doesn't smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she's wanted by the government, he'll have to decide if she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

In general, I don’t find myself getting particularly emotionally invested in audiobooks. The reasons, I think, are some combination of the way that I choose audiobooks and also it being a bit more difficult for me to get to the same level of page-flipping swooning that I do in print because the pace is, by necessity, so measured. Thus, when an audiobook brings out emotions in me, I know it’s a favorite. Written in Red has had me flailing to people for days. I’ve been waiting impatiently for the times when I get to listen to my audiobook and growling at my print books for not being this one. That’s how much I loved this book.

Written in Red hooked me IMMEDIATELY. It opens with a creation story, that of a world very like ours and yet oh so different. The feel is very alternate universe, a universe where, just as humans exist, Others exist. The Others are shifters, vampires, elementals and who knows what else. It’s a world where humans do not dominate, not the top of the food chain because they’re about equally intelligent as the Others but so much weaker. Humans continue to live on the sufferance of the Others. So often paranormal fiction doesn’t really have world building, but Bishop builds an amazingly intricate world, and this is basically everything I’ve ever wanted paranormal to be.

From there, the actual story begins, introducing us to the heroine, Meg Corbyn. Meg’s on the run from her life as a Blood Prophet, where cuts of her skin were sold for the prophecies they generate. At any moment, she could be either caught or die of exposure. Finding herself in land belonging to the Others, she sees a sign about a job for a human to be the liaison to the courtyard. With no other ideas what to do, she interprets this as a sign and goes to apply. She gets the job and adjusts to life with the Others. That’s the super short skipping things summation.

Meg Corbyn is very much not my usual sort of heroine to love, but love her fiercely I definitely do. Most often, I gravitate to the snarky, bitchy, highly educated heroines, strong and independent. While the last two apply to Meg in some fairly significant measure, she’s incredibly sweet with an education limited by her upbringing as a blood prophet. She’s intelligent, something shown by her ability to pick up skills with very little training, which is part of how she was able to get around based off what she learned about the real world, and by her problem solving. Meg, though, doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Well, maybe one. A solitary mean bone, that’s enough to keep her from being a doormat or stupidly trusting.

Often, these super nice characters come off either as Pollyanna-ish or secret assholes. Meg, though, is definitively not an asshole. She’s thoughtful at all times. Though I could see calling her a Pollyanna, she never came across as saccharine to me, because her sweetness is entirely genuine. Meg doesn’t act the way she does to make people like her or as a means to an end; it’s literally the only way she knows how to be. That’s why I love her so much. She’s very much herself, and unique in the way that she thinks because of her upbringing and kind nature. It’s not so much that she’s unnaturally good at thing, because she’s not, but she always tries hard and gives everyone a chance, which melts cold hearts and endears her to everyone, including me. I’ve known a couple of people like this, and they’re really just impossible to love.

Bishop runs a nice line of making the Others likable but also not making them into cute creatures. Some of them are cute, and I love pretty much all of them, but I am also aware that they’re not figures of Good. They’re definitely more anti-hero than hero. If the story were framed differently, with a human living a normal life as the main character, they would so easily be the monstrous and horrifying villains. They kill and eat humans regularly, only the ones who break rules, but they’re not remotely forgiving. Breaking a rule is a death sentence. Stealing from one of their shops once loses a human a hand, and the second time makes them dinner. The Others retain the qualities that make them dominant and unchallengeable.

One of the benefits of third person storytelling is the ability to build out a full cast and follow any of the characters. Bishop uses this fully, and develops so many characters. When I said I love pretty much all of the Others, I mean it. Bishop has me loving all of the cast except for the handful of villains in this first book. They all feel real to me, and, if I could live here, I so would, despite the dangers. Getting me to love the main characters is important, but if you can make me love all of the secondary characters too THAT is when I am incredibly impressed. I mean, I want to list the characters I loved, but it’s so many: Simon, Sam (so so so much Sam and his adorable Samness), Henry, Tess, Erebus, all the ponies, all the crows, etc.

On the other hand, I have to admit that I am highly frustrated with my ship. I mean, it’s good. I SHIP IT SO HARD. And the burn is soooooo slow. It’s good that it’s slow, but I’m also really mad about the lack of progress. I love/hate the way Bishop is handling this romance. View Spoiler »

The plot of Written in Red I could see being hit or miss. The climax of this novel could be underwhelming, and I think that’s really just going to depend. It certainly wasn’t as epic as I expected, but, for a first installment, I thought it worked pretty well. Written the Red sets the stage of characters and abilities really well, as well as laying out a major plot point for the next book, which I expect to be much darker than this first book.

While I could probably go on about this more, I really need to go start the next audiobook, because I MUST HAVE MORE. Seriously, though, this was soooooo good. Oh, also, the audiobook narration is fabulous, though I imagine this one’s equally good in print, so pick your format and get to it.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

This is an adorable wolf puppy howling for you to read this book.

This is an adorable wolf puppy howling for you to read this book.

13 responses to “Audiobook Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop”

  1. Man, everyone is raving about this book/series! I’ve had it on my radar for a while but I never considered audio– and I actually have a couple of credits burning a hole in my pocket, er, iPhone, so I’m pretty sure I just figured out what to do with them– thanks Christina:)
    Heather@ The Flyleaf Review recently posted…The Sekret by Lindsay Smith Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY Stops Here:)My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      The audio is amazing! I’m listening to book two now, and it’s still fabulous (except that they changed the pronunciation of one of the supernatural terms, which makes my eye twitch). But, seriously, this book, you need it.

  2. Meg says:

    YOU DIDN’T TELL ME THE MC IS NAMED MEG. Obviously I am buying this immediately.
    Meg recently posted…Review: Great by Sara BenincasaMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I SO DID. DO NOT CAST ASPERSIONS ON MY CHARACTER. I was all “oh hey, the book I’m reading has a heroine named Meg,” and you were too busy yelling about something to notice, but I DID tell you. Don’t make me dig in the chat records for proof, cause I’ll do it.

      • Meg says:

        No need to dig, this sounds extremely plausible. I apologize for the aspersions cast. Also, since leaving the original comment, I have purchased and downloaded this book. Much excite.

  3. Amir says:

    I’m listening to this now so I skimmed your review (I’m about 50%) but I’m loving it so far! I love the characters and the world building is fantastic. So far, I have not seen a negative review of this book and I can totally understand why!

    And that puppy reminds me of Sam! Aaawww, I want a wolf pup now but it will probably eat me when it gets bigger so not a good idea 🙂
    Amir recently posted…Audiobook Review: Hallowed by Cynthia HandMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yay! I’m glad that you’re loving the audio too. I’m so impressed with Harris. Though, to warn you, they change the pronunciation of cassandra sangue (sp?) in the second book, which annoys me. Otherwise, perfection.

      I want a wolf pup sooooo much.

  4. You have no idea how happy this review has made me ;_; I love Written in Red so, so, so, so much that I just stalk my friends’ updates whenever they try it. It gives me so much euphoria when I learn they love it, too.

    I would love to live in The Courtyard myself! There are even times I wish I were Meg, so I can get to know all these wonderful paranormal creatures who are so dangerous yet gentle at the same time, especially when it comes to her. Erebus reminds me of a grandfather that I never had </3 and Tess is simply awesome.

    I can't wait for you to review Book 2!!!
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…ARC Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa – The whining has ended!!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Heeee. I was SO afraid, because everyone loved it, which means conditions are ripe for a black sheep. However, I loved it from the origin story. So so so good.

      I love how she makes them love her against their own will. It’s so cute. And she’s so incredibly genuine and wonderful. I want to hug all of them. ALL OF THEM.

  5. I was right there with you on the romance front – you KNOW they have all these feelings for each other yet you also know that it might take several books until they actually realize it themselves. At least their adorableness totally makes up for being clueless. Simon especially is the highlight in Murder of Crows. That boy.
    Danielle @ Love at First Page recently posted…Waiting on WednesdayMy Profile

  6. Bonnie says:

    I NEED THIS. Man, this is totally a me book. But because I keep hearing about how wonderful the audio is I keep holding out for that. I have this strange aversion to audiobooks over 15 hours long though and this is 18 and I know I’m weird but I might just have to go with the print version. I don’t know I can’t decide! Anyways, fantastic review. I’m going to go check my library for it now.
    Bonnie recently posted…Something To Look Forward To – Week of March 31st, 2014My Profile

  7. Katy says:

    This one sounds pretty interesting and I don’t think I’ve heard of it before, but the cover looks sort of familiar. I don’t think I could do the audio, but I’m interested. Meg sounds awesome, I like nice characters. I think I relate to snarkier and even negative characters so nice characters and people draw me in really well. That might be sort of weird, I don’t know. The Others sound complex. The love/hate-ness for the relationship sounds frustrating but also intriguing! I might see if my library has it!
    Katy recently posted…Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis [thoughts on time traveling historians]My Profile

  8. […] is reading this series (I blame Christina). I have no idea why I haven’t but I’m determined to start this […]

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