She has this amazing ability to create a world with characters that are unusual but so very appealing. If I was explaining to someone what this series was like, I would say the Others are a bit like the Kindred in the Black Jewels but also, so much more. Neither human nor animal, they are something… Other. The Terra Indigene (Earth Natives) – Deadly, feral, guardians of the world of Namid. Humans live by their sufferance and largesse, and woe betide them if they trespass on land that does not belong to them.
Simon Wolfgarde is the leader of the Lakeside City Courtyard – a place of the Others to live, work, rest and play. Human laws do not apply. Trespass and you may be eaten, and they aren’t kidding. Meg Corbyn is an enigma to the Others, obviously human, she doesn’t smell like them, but doesn’t smell like ‘prey’ either. Appearing from nowhere half frozen, and running from something, she applies for the job as Human Liaison between the Courtyard and the human world. And so begins a very confusing and enlightening time for the residents of Lakeside.
This book is just so full of charm, from Meg herself to the Others and their interactions with her, and with each other about her. Often hilarious as they try to figure out what to do with this strange short human who is willing to interact with their kind and as she creeps into their hearts, they all crept into mine.
I suppose the closest thing to call the others is shapeshifters, vampires, elementals etc. but those labels do not do them justice. The creation of the world and the Others place in it is brilliant and without having to use lengthy explanations, Bishop manages to give you a broad view of the way it works. Humans are not the dominant species even though their nature is such that they don’t believe half of what they hear about the Others and that is always their first mistake. And there are some horrible humans. There are also some amazing ones but you come to think of them as part or extension of the courtyard.
There are so many characters to love here, Meg first and foremost. She is just so loveable and her innocence could have been annoying but it’s not at all. You just want to look after her. Simon is a close second and his confusion over dealing with a human female that does not smell like prey is just priceless. There are quite a few laugh out loud moments where that is concerned. Tess and her ever changing hair is both scary and awesome. Sam is just so adorable as a wolf puppy, your heart just goes out to him for everything he’s suffered.
The rest of the cast are numerous and each and every one has a personality that shines – not always in a good way, but in their experience of humans and their distrust, Meg is something entirely new. Anne Bishop keeps it simple though and you can identify new characters quickly by their surname as to what type of Other they are. Wolfgarde for wolves, Crowgarde for Crows etc.
The story is fascinating and even the simple details make for enjoyable reading. Pace wise, it never moves slowly without good cause and makes perfect sense for the plot happening at the time. When it speeds up though, it really gets going.
Whether the Others will match my fangirl love of the Black Jewels books it remains to be seen, but after one novel, it’s off to a fantastic start!