Review: Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop

Review: Etched in Bone by Anne BishopEtched in Bone by Anne Bishop
Series: The Others #5
Published by Roc on March 7, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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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.

Though it’s hard for me to choose just one, it’s definitely possible that Etched in Bone was my most highly anticipated book of 2017. Certainly, it’s the series I’ve put the most time into in the last couple years. I’ve read the first three books three times, and the fourth twice. Bishop recaps stuff well enough that there’s not a need to reread, but I wanted to because of how much I love this series and these characters. I wanted a bit more from the conclusion to this series, but I also couldn’t put it down. I’m just so not ready to say goodbye to the Lakeside Courtyard.

Bishop made some altogether strange narrative choices in Etched in Bone. Not bad, mind, but strange. One thing that’s been clear throughout the series is that she had this five book series planned when she was writing book one. She very obviously had a detailed outline or more, so I know that this is how she wanted the plot of the final book to be.

Etched in Bone is strange, because Marked in Flesh, from a plot perspective, is the high of the series. That’s where the Others defeat the big villain of the HFL and tighten their control of Thaisia. In Etched in Bone, the reader gets to see what the new normal after all of that, something that normally would be kept to an epilogue.

There IS a plot, but it’s anticlimactic compared to Marked in Flesh. While the stakes are high emotionally, with danger targeted on the Lakeside Courtyard again, much of the world was in danger in Marked in Flesh. Etched in Bone kept my attention, and, with the loss of most contact with other towns and thus the drop in POVs, the pace did move at a good pace, but it wasn’t the usual big, dramatic conclusion. In terms of narrative structure, this is a deeply odd way to end a series. I don’t even mean it as a negative really, but I’m puzzled for sure.

One of the things that worked really nicely about the plot of Etched in Bone is the focus on various forms of abuse. It’s not done in a lecture-y way, but there’s a clear portrayal of various kinds of abuse throughout the series. The villain, Cyrus, is quite obviously a psychopath, and he makes an interesting case study for the Elders who are trying to understand troublesome humans. Throughout the series, there have been so many examples of the way that humans destroy each other and let’s just say elements reflect our current political situation really well. If only we had badass paranormal creatures who could literally eat the shitty humans.

Honestly, I had to fight with my emotions a bit to rate this one appropriately. I’ve underrated basically all of the Others books the first time (or two) I read them, because I was shippily frustrated at the slow pace of Meg and Simon’s romance. I don’t want to do that here. But I am disappointed at how little focus the ship gets here (View Spoiler ») and that none of my side ships officially sailed. Like, Tess and Nyx are obviously going to bang, but the book didn’t confirm that for me and I’m annoyed. Also, I swear there was chemistry between Elliot and Twyla too. Bishop writes such good ship, and I’m surprised she didn’t deliver a few more intense swoony moments here in the end.

Taking all of that, I still love the fuck out of this series in general and this book specifically. Meg and the Courtyard crew are intensely precious to me, and I know them all really well because of the level of detail that Bishop puts into absolutely everything. This is one of the best urban fantasy/paranormal series out there, along with October Daye.

There’s a spin-off series set in the same world coming out next year, and I’m just crossing my fingers that Simon, Meg, and Sam will show up in those books. I need them in my life.

Favorite Quote:

Humans would drink water pumped from the well if it was in a glass or a bucket or some other small container but couldn’t drink the same water from a shared outdoor container?

It made him wonder how they had survived as a species long enough to become such a problem.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

2 responses to “Review: Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop”

  1. Hannah says:

    Ah. AH!

    Excellent review. This book is also one of my most anticipated, and while I am a bit bummed about the lack of romance in this one, I have always enjoyed the worldbuilding in the series. Quite upset that the series is finally finished – it’s one of my favourite UF out there!
    Hannah recently posted…Mini reviews: The Perfect Stranger – Megan Miranda, Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day – Seanan McGuireMy Profile

  2. Public Voice says:

    I honestly believe if I’d known this was the LAST book in the Meg and Simon story arc and if I had known they would NOT even consummate their relationship in this book; they only kiss at the very end and decide they like it, but nothing else, I probably would have stopped with the last book Marked in Flesh and not even read this one. I am so very, very, disappointed the author has chosen to end the story arc here and not wrap up the serious with Simon and Meg finally making love to one another and wrapping up the story lines of the other side characters such as Tess and Nyx who obviously share a bond and may potentially love each other as mates, too. This book promised a lot, but delivered very little. Shame on Ms. Bishop for ending the story arc this way. Not good at all!

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