Monday, March 28, 2016
Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
Title: Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)
Author: Anne Bishop
Rating: 4 Stars
Marked in Flesh is a truly fantastic new installment to Bishop's wonderful Urban Fantasy series. This series has started small, focusing on the interactions between the humans and the Others in Lakeside, but slowly it has started to expand outwards to encompass the entirety of the continent Thaisia and now the globe itself. Bishop's world-building continues to be one of my favorite aspects of this series and it is a testament to her skill that she was able to steadily introduce new elements that all fit together in such a way that readers had no trouble following the nation-wide crises that occur in this novel.
Bishop's latest brings the war that has been brewing between the humans and the Others to a forefront at last. The Humans First and Last movement is growing bolder and bolder and the Others, not to mention the Elders, are becoming increasingly impatient. The conflict between these species is horrific and terrible, but fascinating to watch unfold, and I'm curious to see how the aftermath is dealt with in the sequel. Marked in Flesh continues to place Meg, her friends, and other sweet bloods at the front seat of the series, though. It is clear in this novel that Meg's skill is valuable and life-saving--admittedly at the threat of her own life--but Bishop begins to explore alternatives for Meg. We are thrown back into her realm of insecurities, reminded that despite the fact that she has come incredibly far, she is still capable of believing that her self-worth is related to her skin. It's difficult to come to terms with, especially when Meg is beloved by all at Lakeside, but I've enjoyed her growth immensely throughout the series and this book is no exception.
While I often yearned for Lakeside in this book, only because the chapters bounce all throughout Thaisia and even into other continents such as Cel-Romano, the character interactions were never truly missing. If anything, the bonds between separate packs and lone groups that weren't in close proximity to Lakeside were made palpable and I especially enjoyed watching Simon deal with the responsibility thrust upon him. Simon doesn't want to deal with the humans but he has to and his interactions with them, his evolving relationship to their kind, but also his innate wolfness, all made for a fascinating novel that forced Simon to grow and change, too. (Not to mention, he has a truly kick-ass bromance with Vlad that I couldn't get enough of. I want to get in on that best friendship ASAP!)
It has often been remarked but it bears repeating--the romance takes a backseat with this series. I think Urban Fantasy has a reputation for often veering into erotica only with a concrete paranormal setting and battle scene to accompany the romance but this series is different. It's more Young Adult in its content but the world-building and character development is rich. Moreover, the romance is a slow-burn. Meg and Simon act like an old-married couple; living together, teasing each other over the phone, holding hands while they walk... But they do not share physical intimacies and their relationship remains a solid friendship. Bishop teases their romance in subtle ways throughout this novel and I am fully confident that we will see it bloom in the sequel. I, for one, cannot wait--the sexual tension has been killing me!
Marked in Flesh is obviously a must-read for fans of this series and to newcomers who have yet to pick up Bishop's work, I cannot emphasize enough what a truly wonderful series this is. It's brilliant and unique, from beginning to end, and I will be sad to see it go. As much as I hate the wait for a sequel, I'll savor it, this one last time.