If you haven't read any of these books & stumble across this review, my apologies. It's really for fans because at this point, it's impossible to recap the complex plot lines & histories behind the large cast of characters. If you're interested in something original, inventive & gripping in the sic-fi/UF genre, get your mitts on a copy of "Written in Red" & give it a go.
For the initiated, just know this is a must read. It picks up directly after "Murder of Crows" & you get the sense Ms. Bishop is using this instalment as a transition book where events & characters are being positioned like chessmen for the big showdown between humans & the Others.
The Humans First & Last movement is gaining strength & flare ups against the terre indigene are bolder & more frequent. Silly humans...they have no idea who they're dealing with.
In previous books, there were allusions to the Others who live in the wilderness. They are shadowy, vaguely defined creatures who completely avoid human contact until some poor soul wanders into their territory. Then they're seen as snack food. But now we get hints they've been paying attention all along & may not be on board with Simon's attempts at integration.
In the Courtyard, they're beginning to feel the effects of growing resentment, fed by the HFL & its' charismatic leader. But Simon continues to implement innovative ideas for communities where species co-exist. Local police Chief Burke is walking a fine line. He knows better than most just what dwells in the dark forests & is desperate to keep the peace as people begin to take sides.
Meg is tasked with helping the rescued CS adapt to freedom, with decidedly mixed results. But it's also leading to a better understanding of herself as her character evolves. Monty's personal life plays a larger role & we get the details of his previous relationships as he fights for custody of his daughter.
This is a more sombre story. The tension slowly builds & you definitely get the feeling there is a huge storm brewing just beyond the next chapter. Clearly, war is inevitable but with 2 more books to go it's anyone's guess when it will happen & who will be left standing. Unlike other authors, Ms. Bishop doesn't shy away from killing off prominent characters & that holds true here.
I really enjoy the series so it's a pleasure to catch up with all the characters & find out where their story lines are headed. My only complaint with this instalment is I missed the moments of humour that provided periodic relief from the scary suspense. Because of events unfolding around him, we get much less of Simon in mischevious wolf form, inventing ways to torment his favourite squeaky toy (Meg). The antics of the ponies were always good for a giggle but they have smaller roles due to pressing story lines.
But who am I kidding...I'm well & truly hooked. The possibilities are endless in this rich, fictional world & many of the issues can be seen as allegorical. I've become hopelessly invested in its' residents, even Tess who continues to scare the bejeezus out of me. So in spite of wanting to reach the conclusion, I kept trying to slow my pace, knowing it's a loooong wait for book #4.