The Others #1-5 by Anne Bishop (2013-2017)
Fiction | Urban Fantasy | Crime & Mystery
Have you missed my ridiculously long and rambling reviews as I go on and on in either obsession, disappointment, or indifference?? Haha well fear not because I’m back with another review that I just couldn’t help but want to share on my blog despite my year of hiatus!
Today, I welcome you to the world of the Others. Dangerous shifters whom prey on humans like it’s Taco Tuesday, humans bold enough to try and overthrow the ancient beings whose land they want to claim, and a young woman with deadly secrets of her own yet an innocence in her heart that could change everything and become humanity’s only saving grace. This series of semi-standalone novels is an urban fantasy series wrapped up in a gritty crime and mystery veil with a bit of horror thrown into the mix and it’s something you won’t want to miss out on.
So you might recognize Written in Red (The Others #1) from my Top Reads of 2020: Part 1 post in June. During all of the COVID-19 madness I found myself visiting the online library and binging books like wild particularly once I stumbled upon Written in Red, the first book of The Others series. It was mentioned in a YA book group on Facebook so I went into it expecting something light and YA, but it is definitely NA/Adult if only because the characters are all of adult age and the shifters in this series don’t shy away from tearing people apart and relishing the taste of human heart. Ew. (More details on why these aren’t YA below.)
ANYways, I really loved how each book had a main plot that was wrapped up by the final page yet there were other plots that evolved throughout the series for those who want more. I posted individual reviews for each book on Goodreads but for my blog I thought I’d pile them all together and just scream out my thoughts on the series as a whole (although feel free to ask me about anything in particular in the comments or on Goodreads). So, let’s get started…
I. AM. ALIVE!!!
I was suffering a horrible reading slump when I suddenly discovered this series. I looked up the first book and the cover didn’t really catch my attention, but the description did along with a gut feeling. WELL LET ME TELL YOU, THIS BOOK RESURRECTED MY READING SOUL! O HAPPY DAY! At long last, my dear friends, at long last I have discovered a paranormal story/series that is literally everything I’ve always wanted. Unapologetic, gritty, funny, sweet, mysterious, chilling, EVERYTHING. For once there isn’t too much focus on a romance, too much stupid annoying drama, too much gore and grit, too much of any of those tropes. I enjoy paranormal, but I can’t binge it because the tropes kill me.
This series was so good! Granted it took me a second, largely because the first pages included town names (Sparkletown???) and their names for the days of the week (Moonsday???) all of which I quickly flipped past because my brain just couldn’t handle the silly-sounding names and it had me judging the story before I’d even really started. Other than that though, the characters, the story, the style…it all worked really well and I vibed with it pretty quickly.
Written in Red is the first book in a series filled with creatures we call werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, and the terrifying unknown, but get ready because each book just ups the stakes even higher. With a leading lady who is an enigma even unto herself, several POVs, and a plot that unfolds like a mystery novel on a foggy night, each book will reel you in and hold you tight as you turn the last page. I couldn’t put them down! Chills danced along my skin, laughter warmed my heart, and curiosity held captive my gaze. I’m sincerely hoping this obsession I am feeling isn’t a fluke. Even if it is I am glad I discovered these books because in this moment I am happy.
Seriously though, I cannot gush enough. This series is knocking aside anything else I’ve read this year and maybe ever when it comes to the paranormal/shifter genre. As I’ve gotten older I’ve sought out stories written for those a bit older and yet all it’s done is make the genre less appealing to me. Until now. There is something about it that is exciting, scary, suspenseful, sweet, brutal, honest, natural, grown up, and very calming. Somehow despite the big teeth and human prey, Bishop has managed to craft a little piece of world that I wish I could be a part of. So many characters and POVs and they’re all fantastic. Big plots, sub plots, side plots, secret plots…they’re all woven together into the perfect balance of high stakes story telling and simple day-to-day living. We get the thrill of a novel while our curiosity about daily living in Lakeside is also satisfied.
Okay okay but is there any romance??? Um, yeah actually but not what most paranormal books these days seem to be crammed full of. In other words…
Honestly the longest slow burn I’ve ever read and I’ve never been more invested haha. The romance that evolves between Meg and Simon is freaking adorable!! Never before has holding hands made me squeal with so much delighted enthusiasm hahaha. After devouring the last book in The Others series (as pertaining to Meg and the Lakeside Courtyard) the time has come and I am wholly satisfied. SO GOOD. Not that I expected anything less of course, but last books in series always make me a bit nervous.
I will say that these last couple of books in particular make it clear that this is not a YA series (although the ages of the characters should’ve made that obvious to readers and I only mention this because it was recommended in a YA book group). I’d consider it NA or Adult Fiction. A bit gory n’ gross at times (people are eaten, shifters are slaughtered, torture is never off the table for either party from either party), a bit openly crass and occasionally violating (*glares at bad guys and tries not to spit up bile*), and it explores darker themes for sure but never quite so blatantly as in the last couple of books. Or at least not in a way that really struck me quite so hard. All that being said, I will add that there isn’t anything explicit and I wouldn’t at all remove this series as a recommendation for upper YA readers.
There are a lot of bad people in these books and they do a lot of bad things. It isn’t always easy to sit through and read about, but it isn’t taken lightly or felt like it was thrown in gratuitously. And the bad guys got eaten. Always. And that made it a bit easier to bear though it still hurt to watch. (Let me know if you want any hints or warnings about the bad guys in the series).
BUT OTHER THAN THE BAD GUYS BEING UPSETTINGLY AWFUL, this was a stellar urban fantasy thriller series and the very last page was so cute I swooned as I desperately clung to every scrap the slow burn romance between Meg and Simon would give me. Do I wish I got more of Meg and Simon’s happily ever after? Yes. OF COURSE I DO. But I also appreciate how their romance was more subtle, natural, and sweet. It wasn’t fireworks, drama, and passion, but it was something stronger and slower and deeper that I’d bet will last a helluva lot longer, in fact I’d bet anything that their love is the kind to last forever and that is what had my heart smiling and crying at the same time haha. (Note: Why can’t I find any adorable fanfic for Meg and Simon??? I know nothing could be as good as the books themselves, but I’d still love to read more about their special cuteness and how they discover things together as a human-Wolf couple! ♥)
Crime Thriller, Paranormal Thriller, Shifter Romance, Urban Fantasy Mystery…all of these genres apply to The Others series and honestly I don’t think I need to say anymore. SO. GOOD. Seriously, try this series out. I, personally, cannot wait to settle into the foggy nights of October by grabbing book one and start reading the series all over again.
Up next I’ll talk a quick moment about the two books released within the world of the Others and after that scroll through for more info on individual books in both series!
The World of the Others #1-2 by Anne Bishop (2018-2019)
Now while The Others series largely focused on Meg and Simon with certain plot lines that connected the books into a single cohesive series, The World of the Others is a series of total standalone novels for those who want to know more and step outside of the Lakeside Courtyard. Lake Silence features all new characters in a totally new town and has a total cozy murder mystery vibe. It was great to see how Others beyond those we’ve known for so long interact with/view humans and vice versa. It was a quick mystery read that I really enjoyed and would give it a solid 4 stars. Maybe 4.5 stars?! I dunno, I just know that I was sucked into the story just as easily as with Meg and Simon’s books.
The second book released in this spin-off series is Wild Country which features some characters we meet later on in The Others series but don’t really get to spend much time with at all. Jana is a major character and we only met her for a minute maybe in The Others, but all of these characters were intriguing enough for me to hope for their own book and voila! Even so I think this book would make a bit more sense if you read The Others series first although I don’t think it’s strictly required to enjoy it. This book has a total Wild West vibe that was exciting with saloons, gunslingers, and showdowns. That being said the plot overall didn’t work for me. I think there was simultaneously too much and too little. Too many interests, too many hook-ups, too much flirting, too much wondering, too much scheming, too much attitude, and it became distracting because none of it felt important. It felt too shallow and rushed and I just didn’t care. I admit I felt really disappointed and would give this book a 3 star rating BUT I am no less in love with the world of the Others and really really hope more books will be released!!
So if you want to just dip your toe into the pool of this wild world, then maybe try one of these standalones. That being said I’d still strongly recommend reading The Others (aka Meg/Simon’s series) first because I think it really gives you the foundation to fully appreciate and get into these other stories, plus it’s my favorite.
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.
Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shapeshifters, and paranormal beings even more deadly. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .
After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns like Vicki’s have no distance from the Others, the dominant predators that rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what’s out there watching you.
Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shapeshifting Others–discovers a dead body, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the man’s death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, things get dangerous–and it’ll take everything they have to stay alive.
There are ghost towns in the world—places where the humans were annihilated in retaliation for the slaughter of the shape-shifting Others.
One of those places is Bennett, a town at the northern end of the Elder Hills—a town surrounded by the wild country. Now efforts are being made to resettle Bennett as a community where humans and Others live and work together. A young female police officer has been hired as the deputy to a Wolfgard sheriff. A deadly type of Other wants to run a human-style saloon. And a couple with four foster children—one of whom is a blood prophet—hope to find acceptance.
But as they reopen the stores and the professional offices and start to make lives for themselves, the town of Bennett attracts the attention of other humans looking for profit. And the arrival of the Blackstone Clan, outlaws and gamblers all, will uncover secrets…or bury them.
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Meet Anne Bishop!
Anne Bishop lives in upstate New York where she enjoys gardening, music, and writing dark, romantic stories. She is the author of over twenty novels, including the award-winning Black Jewels Trilogy. She has written a new series, the Others, which is an urban dark fantasy with a bit of a twist.