I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent.
Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.
A+ Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A- Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+ Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B- Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+ Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C- Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish
updated July 9, 2015
Written in Red is a wonderful blend of unique mythology and extensive world-building, crossing the line between the urban fantasy and fantasy genres. Taking place on an alternate version of Earth, the book shares the story of two race of beings: the humans and the Others. The Others are shape-shifting beings who learned to "take the shape of humans" so that they could communicate and trade with the humans. But make no mistake, the Others rule the earth and consider humans prey.
Meg Corbyn is a special human: she can see glimpses of the future when her skin is cut. Considered the property of her controller, Meg has been held captive and never been allowed to experience life outside her controlled environment. When she escapes, Meg finds refuge among the Lakeside Others, learning about life - both the good and the bad - without being controlled.
At over 18 hours, Written in Red is a long audiobook. The story is utterly fascinating, alternating between several point-of-views to develop the considerable and intricate world-building and characters. There are multiple "slice of life" scenes that provide the listener with vivid imagery of what life is like among the Others. While I never found myself board with the story, I do feel that the book could have been edited down a bit. For example, often the listener would experience the same scene from more than one point-of-view, adding length that doesn't necessarily need to be there.
Ms. Bishop creates an array of compelling and interesting characters. While I would tag Meg as the primary character because the story is her "coming of age" tale, there are at least a half dozen more characters of substance and another set of supporting characters who fill up much of the page space. The Others, who come in all different sub-types such as wolf, bear, crow, vampire, elemental, are primarily their "Other" self wearing a human shape. I appreciate how their mannerisms and behavior are mostly non-human, and they really have no clue how to be human. This makes their acceptance and even love for Meg something unique and special. There is tremendous character growth in several of the Others as they learn from Meg.
Another aspect of the story that I enjoyed is that the bad guys are bad. There are no redeeming qualities for those that set out to hurt Meg and the Others who protect her. While I hated Asia Crane, I appreciated how smart she was going about her plans to infiltrate the Others and get rid of Meg. The only thing that really bothered me was that there are a couple of extended scenes from her POV, which really started to drag on for me.
From the start of the book, we know that Meg foresees her own death. Written in Red follows Meg and her companions from the moment she sets foot in Lakeside up to and through the moments of her prophecy as they unfold. While there are issues and problems that pop up as part of this journey, the bulk of the action is relegated to the end of the book.
The narration by Alexandra Harris grew on me, but it wasn't spectacular. I found her general narrative voice pleasing, and most of the female characters fitting. However, her performance of a few of the primary characters, such as Simon Wolfgard, annoyed me. In addition, her cadence is slow and almost simple. I couldn't tell if it was the text or her performance that made it feel that way. Her narration isn't going to prevent me from listening to the second book, but it gives me pause and wonder if perhaps I would have enjoyed the book a little more in written format.
Rating of the book: B
Rating of the narration: C+