Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Written in RedFormat read: ebook.
Formats available: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook.
Genre: Urban Fantasy.
Series: The Others #1.
Length: 433 pages.
Publisher: NAL.
Date Released: March 5, 2013.
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & NobleBook Depository.

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.

My Thoughts:

Anne Bishop is a truly terrible writer. There is really no way to get around that fact. She’s overly fond of pig latin italics and Portentously Capitalized Common Nouns. You know going into her books that there will be utterly painful dialogue, rampant goth sensibilities, a whole lotta weird sexual shit, lazy world-building, and the Mary-est of Mary Sues.

Acrackedmoon provides this fantastic summary of Anne Bishop’s defining work – the Black Jewels trilogy:

It’s got dragons and unicorns and they all love her, and then when the cock-ring becomes too much he bites someone’s clitoris off.

Despite all of these blatant issues, Bishop somehow manages to remain hella entertaining. And so I picked up a copy of Written in Red. Maybe she’s turned over a creative leaf, maybe there will be something different in this series, maybe….. and I’m proven wrong in the prologue. Time to settle in and count the Bishopisms.

  • Pretentious Italics? Check! The “Others” call themselves the terra indigene. In every other sentence. Much the way we homo sapiens always refer to ourselves by genus and species classification. The protagonist has her own special designation of cassandra sangue – something repeated in as many conversations and internal monologues as possible. This here is some serious shit. Meg = Blood + Prophecy. 
  • Capitalized with loving care? Absolutely! The Others and their stuff are Too Important to demean with lower case. Understand me bitches?
    • Wolf, Crow, Hawk, Coyote, Grizzly, Elemental, Winter, Air, Spring, Fire, Earth, Water, Courtyard, Wolfgard, Chambers, Corvine, Hawkgard, Crowgard, and Pony Barn are adoringly capitalized at every opportunity.
    • As is Meg’s third synonymous designation, “The Thousand Cuts.” Why give a protagonist one title when she can have three! Blood prophet vs cassandra sangue vs The Thousand Cuts. Which do you prefer? No matter, you’ll have the opportunity to see them all overused.
  • Goth Glitter? Check! Our three main Vampire Sanguinati characters are Vlad, Nyx, and Erebus. All of whom are, incidentally, tall, dark, sexy – and can literally transform into smoke.
  • Bizarre sexual dynamics? Double check.
    • First up we have Meg, who experiences “ecstasy that is similar to prolonged sexual pleasure” anytime she verbalizes a prophecy from a cut. If she dares to keep the visions to her herself, she’ll suffer indescribable pain and not a smidgeon of pleasure. Do you understand? MASTURBATION IS BAD!
    • Just in case there isn’t enough creepy for you, consider the obvious set up for a werewolf Wolf /vampire Sanguinati love triangle in book 2. Meg’s pain when she cuts, or screams of fear when attacked, are excruciatingly arousing to The Others. Who spend an inordinate amount to time considering humans as “meat” and “prey.” Because nothing is sexier than knowing if your ladylove bleeds, she’ll suffer agonizing pain, orgasm, and then you can eat her.
  • Aus Written in RedMary-Sue? Check! Meg is beautiful, kind to everyone, the most powerful prophet ever, and has a special scent that just drives all the Other boys wild. Everyone loves Meg upon meeting her, giving her unheard of privileges and special treatment. Oh, this area that NO ONE IS EVER ALLOWED IN EVER? Meg’ll get a pass within 30 seconds! Oh, these Others who don’t give a fuck about anything? Instants BFFs! They’ll destroy civilization for their precious Meg.
  • Lazy-World Building? With bonus racism! The Others are all basically First Nations, except they are monstrous killers who literally slaughter and eat the European colonists. They only let them live so they can take their stuff. Because First Nations people would never be able to invent anything so complicated as  jewelry, dog beds, or cartoons. Tor notes that there was potential for a fascinating look at colonialism and a world were the Native populations won – but this is Anne Bishop. She’s not tackling sensitive issues. She’s wallowing in The Erotic Pain of the Thousand Organism Cuts while the Others devour the special meat of their enemies.

Escape Rating: D+ because there is nothing good about this book – and yet I read it all the way through. Anne Bishop remains inexplicably entertaining, despite showing no growth as a writer, or creative process deeper than a 13 year old’s livejournal.

Written in Red will pair well with a drinking game. Take a shot every time someone does something stunningly out of character because of Meg. Or every time Meg does something that would have gotten anyone else brutally killed, but is instantly forgiven.

A Murder of Crows will be released in 2014, during which I expect Meg will be threatened with rape, get laid, and instigate a war. Which will be decidingly won in Book 3 after the death of some redshirts nobody cared about anyways.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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2 thoughts on “Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

  1. Oh, Cass, your review is both Insightful and Scathingly Entertaining. 🙂

    Despite your D+ rating, I’m still going to try this out at some point. (I’m holding out because the ebook is currently about $2.50 more than the DTB on Amazon so I’m hoping for a return-to-sanity price adjustment or a sale.)

    BTW, this is off topic, but I was checking to see when the sequel to Seraphina would be out, and it looks like it’s been delayed until 2015. WTF?!? I hope I have misunderstood. . .

    1. I admit Bishop is entertaining, so I won’t be judging you.

      As for Seraphina, you are correct. YEARS between sequels.

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