by Anne Bishop
Series: The Others #6
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Reading Challenges: 2018 Romance Roundabout Challenge, January - March 2018 Quarterly Challenge, Title Hunt Quarterly Challenge: January - March 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
In this thrilling and suspenseful fantasy, set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, Vicki DeVine and her lodger, the shapeshifter Aggie Crowe, stumble onto a dead body . . . and find themselves enmeshed in danger and dark secrets.
Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shapeshifters, and paranormal beings even more deadly. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .
After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns like Vicki’s have no distance from the Others, the dominant predators that rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what’s out there watching you.
Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shapeshifting Others–discovers a dead body, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the man’s death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, things get dangerous–and it’ll take everything they have to stay alive.
Trigger warning: domestic violence (verbal), anxiety/panic attacks
Ms. Bishop’s the Others series is, well, interesting. The world building is both very good and somewhat lackadaisical (computers and email exist even though most of America is covered in forest). Sometimes the characters do things for completely incomprehensible reasons, and there are frequently clunkily worded sentences. Also, the bad guys are very, very evil, and the good guys tend to be, well, Mary Sues. The plot lines are pretty simple. The main character, usually female, is hurt by a Very Bad Man, main character somehow ends up befriending the Others, Very Bad Man and friends do dumb stuff and then get eaten by the Others. It’s basically justice porn. But, I mean, this book starts out with the main character walking in on her lodger microwaving an eyeball for lunch, so, I’m not going to really complain. They’re fun, humorous, and completely over the top, and they’re simply great fun to read.
This is the first in a new storyline with The Others universe, so I suppose someone could pick this up without prior knowledge of the Others, though I think they’d be a tad confused. Lakeside Courtyard, and cassandra sangue, are mentioned only in passing, so if you go into this looking for more Meg and Simon, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, we have the town of Sproing (I know, I know, this is one of those things you just have to overlook with this series), which is controlled by the terra indigene, otherwise known as the Others, mostly wild creatures who can, if they wish, assume human shape, and Vicki, the new protagonist. Vicki received The Jumble – a village-size cluster of cottages with private beach access to Lake Silence – as part of a divorce settlement from her ex-husband. She’s new to the village, but has spent the past few months repairing the cottages, and even has her first lodger – who just so happens to be a Crow terra indigene. Of course, things happen, and Vicki ends up the victim of a sinister plot, and somehow her ex is involved, of course. Luckily, she’s got a highway patrol police officer, a “yummy” vampire lawyer, the former-police-now-bookstore-owner love interest, the boarding-house-owner-with-scary-tattoos, and a bunch of what I think are supposed to be kangaroos on her side.
“I looked at the screen door and wondered about something else. ‘Do the Sanguinati have trouble with mosquitoes?’
‘You mean, do the big bloodsuckers get pestered by the little bloodsuckers?’
Judging by my attorney’s laughter, if I failed to turn The Jumble into a viable business, I could always get a job as a standup comedian in a vampire bar.”
I sympathized with Vicki DeVine (and that’s the last time I’ll type out her last name, because good night that’s awful). She’s self-conscious of her looks (she’s short and plump) and has deep emotional scars from her verbally abusive marriage. Raised voices, and men in general, can send her spiraling into a bad panic attack. Despite all that, she’s worked hard to make a go of it with The Jumble, and has started to settle in with the rest of Sproing’s inhabitants. Wayne Grimshaw is the highway patrol police officer from the nearest city who’s sent to investigate Vicki’s call about an eyeball, and he seemed generally nice, if a bit two-dimensional. Unlike the main cop from the previous set of books, there doesn’t seem much else to him other than that he likes Vicki and wants to make sure she’s treated fairly. Julian Farrow is the owner of the village bookstore, and also someone Grimshaw was friends with at the police academy, though he dropped out of police work after being attacked and nearly killed one night on patrol. It seems like Julian’s being set up as Vicki’s love interest (another bookseller, really?), which, well, whatever, but note that there’s pretty much no romantic content in this book. As for the terra indigene contingent, we have “yummy” Ilya, the head of the Sanguinati lodge in Sproing, who own pretty much the entire town and Aggie, the crow guard lodger whose unconventional lunch starts the whole plot.
“’And while you and Grimshaw and Julian get this straightened out for silly, incompetent me, I’ll just sit in a corner somewhere and do nothing, because that’s all I’m good at.’ I’d meant it to sound humorous—don’t ask me how it could—but even to my ears it sounded bitter. Defeated.
‘Can you kill a human, Victoria?’ Ilya asked.
‘Then let those who can deal with these predators.’
‘That’s your plan? Kill Yorick and those other men?’
‘Not if I can find a better way to solve the problem.’
As for the plot, well, it’s predictable. I really wish Vicki had more agency in this book. I understand that that’s probably unrealistic after being set up as son emotionally broken, and she does man up for the climatic bit of the book, but at a lot of times it felt like the Others were basically treating her like a pet and taking care of all her problems for her. Her worth, to them, is basically being the human caretaker of The Jumble and reading them stories three nights a week.
Now let’s talk about ridiculous. Vicki refers to her ex, Yorick, and his Vigorous Appendage (yes, with the caps) several times, and people, I just can’t. The next – the bad guys all belong to, I swear I’m not making this up, the Tie Clip Club. Originally, the good guys came up with this as sort of a tongue-in-cheek name to describe a secret club where the members are identified by wearing a specific tie clip, and I giggled at the name then, but no, really, that’s what they actually call themselves. While there are multiple POVs in the story, most of them are told in third-person while Vicki’s is told in first-person. While I actually prefer first-person POV, switching between the two types was jarring for me.
Overall, while I do complain a lot about the over the topness of these books, I keep picking them up every time a new one is released. Yes, they’re predictable, and it seems like large chunks have been copy-and-pasted from the first set of books, but there’s something to be said for knowing exactly what you’re going to get when you pick up a book. They’re ridiculous but enjoyable, so I’m going to say this falls somewhere on the 3-4 star scale for me, so I’ll round up to 4 stars. Recommended for fans of word building who aren’t afraid of Sproingers or Vigorous Appendages.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2018 Romance Roundabout Challenge
- January - March 2018 Quarterly Challenge
- Title Hunt Quarterly Challenge: January - March 2018