This is the third in the series The Others. Click here to see a review of Written in Red and click here for Murder of Crows
The Others are those sentient native terran species that aren’t human. In this world, humans evolved isolated from the rest of the world and by the time they were ready to explore and colonize, they discovered the rest of the world didn’t belong to them. And if they encroached where they were not welcome they got eaten. But after a time, they learned to trade the things they made and invented with the Others and won land for their use. But the Others controlled all the natural resources and the humans could only use that which was allowed to them.
In this third book, Meg is still living at the Courtyard and protected by the Others that live there; particularly by Simon Wolfgard, the leader. The Others tend to ignore humans and their politics and drama but that disregard may lead to catastrophe if they don’t realize the danger the humans pose. The humans are creating propaganda to promote “Humans First, Humans Last” and devising schemes to push the Others back and gain more land. They are abysmally ignorant of the true nature of all the Others and their actions could have devastating results on the Courtyard.
Simon is trying something new in his Courtyard; integrating humans into his Pack. Meg was the first human to gain the interest and regard of the Others but her interactions lead Simon to believe there might be benefits gained from association with humans. So other humans are invited to live at the Courtyard. One of them is a local policeman, Monty. Monty’s ex-girlfriend has taken up with the leader of the Humans First movement and he worries about his little daughter. But when one of the Wolfgard notices the little girl on a train, alone and vulnerable; it is truly providence that brings her safely to her father and the Courtyard. Meg’s visions indicate there is something in the little girl’s situation that is going to affect the Others…and not in a good way.
Another thread of the story is the other girls like Meg. The Others tried to shut down all the “homes” and “compounds” where the girls were enslaved but the real challenge was to find a way for those survivors to live without suiciding. Meg learns more about her own vulnerabilities as she tries to write a manual on understanding the cassandra sangue.
There is a very solid mystery as Meg and the Others try to unravel clues as to the intents of the Humans First leaders. There is a nice secondary thread to further illustrate the cassandra sangue girls; and while I enjoyed that world building, I thought it was the weaker part of the book.
I thought the plotting was good although I think the author tried to take on a few too many ideas. The characters are still fascinating but I’d like a bit more from some of the Others characters. Bishop continues to produce a really fine urban fantasy with a twist and she continues to impress me with her otherworldly sense of her characters. I don’t quite know how to explain it except to say that no other writer I’ve read has done as good a job characterizing a truly unhuman creature. I’ve seen it in three of her series and I can, unreservedly, recommend them all. ~~ Catherine Book