This is book four in an ongoing series. It is not the place to start. This review will contain mild spoilers for things that happened in previous books. If you are interested (I think the series is very entertaining and doing something different from most paranormal fantasy, I know others who strongly disagree), you should start with book one, Written in Red.
Both the human and the supernatural inhabitants in the Lakeside courtyard are concerned about the further scheming of the Humans First and Last movement, especially after the more ancient and powerful paranormal creatures in the wilds have taken an interest in the escalating conflict and seem to indicate that they may want to eradicate the threat of the humans once and for all. Meg and several other of the liberated cassandra sangues keep having worrying visions of death and destruction, while the Lakeside Others are trying to figure out a way to show the more ruthless and powerful elementals that some humans really are decent, have worth and should be spared in the case of further escalation.
As the HFL in both Thaisia (America) and overseas start feeling more confident of their success in claiming more land from the Others, setting traps and killing in coordinated attacks, it’s clear that Meg has to figure out a way to communicate more clearly with her fellow seers and her human friends need to start stockpiling supplies and making lists over things they will need in case their communities end up becoming more isolated. Once the HFL members launch their final attacks towards what they consider a supernatural threat, the retaliation is swift and merciless. The Ancients strike back and show the humans once and for all who really owns and rules the land.
While I normally find these books very engrossing reads, I had trouble really getting into this one. The conflict between the HFL and the Others has been escalating gradually in the previous books. It’s become clear that the divide between those humans who can live in compromise with the paranormal community and those who can’t is becoming greater and causing more strife. The notion of the Ancients, so remote and powerful that even the shapeshifters, vampires and general elementals were in awe of them was introduced and the threat of them really did seem fearsome. It was quite clear that things were coming to a head, and yet I couldn’t really bring myself to care all that much.
I still enjoyed reading about the characters, who are all fairly well established by this point. The human “Pack” in the Lakeside courtyard keeps growing as more and more of the people friendly with Meg and the Others find their own families and friends rejecting them. The tension in the story keeps being racked up slowly, but even with something clearly very bad about to happen being telegraphed, I just couldn’t seem to summon up the energy to worry too much.
I’m curious about where Bishop is taking these books and where the story is going to go in future instalments. I will still be reading the series, but I think like with Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books (where I’m now a few behind), I’m just not going to be anticipating each new release with bated breath, dropping everything to read the newest book every year.
Crossposted on my blog.