Thursday, February 25, 2016

ARC Review: Marked in Flesh

Title: Marked in Flesh (Book 4 in The Others series)
Author: Anne Bishop
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Roc / Penguin
Format: eARC*

“For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community...

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs...”

I read the first three books in Anne Bishop’s The Others series last year and absolutely adored them. Urban fantasy is far from my usual cup of tea, but something about these books drew me in. Needless to say, getting an ARC of the fourth book, Marked in Flesh, was beyond exciting. The fact that this is the fourth books means that there will be some spoilers if you haven’t started the series or are caught up yet, so read at your discretion!

In this fourth installment, we pick up immediately after the events of Vision in Silver. The members of the Humans First and Last movement are planning attacks against the Others and the Intuits in an effort to claim the land for humans. As these attacks increase in severity, something far more powerful than the Others – the Elders, who live deep in the wild country – have had enough of these human threats. Meanwhile, the Lakeside Courtyard finds itself trying to protect more Others and humans than ever before.

There is something that must be said about this series: these books grow on you, but they’re not action-packed thrillers. So much of the story is devoted to the daily goings-on of the characters, their relationships, and how they navigate their world. I admit there are times when this seems almost boring, and so much time is spent in the build-up to major events. Marked in Flesh definitely suffers from this, even more than its predecessors.

The first 40% of Marked in Flesh is spent alternating between many points of view (too many, to be honest), and it’s a bit difficult to keep everything straight. Our time as the reader is split between three different locations, and countless characters. Personally, I could have gone without a lot of these little subplot moments in favor of focusing on the actual, main plot or on character relationships (if you know my thoughts about this series, you know who I’m talking about). But around the 45% mark, things really pick up, and the events of Marked in Flesh will irrevocably change the dynamics of this world forever. I don’t even know what’s going to happen in book five, because the way things end in Marked in Flesh was just…a lot bigger than I was expecting. So now I’m very excited to see where Anne Bishop takes things in the next book.

On a side note, I will say that I was a bit disappointed in the lack of a certain development that I’ve been looking forward to for four books now. Yes, I’m talking about Simon and Meg’s relationship. I understand why this ship has progressed at a glacial pace, and all the reasons why it’s necessary. But while we finally get something like progress for these two, my shipper heart wanted a bit more (I’m greedy, what can I say). That being said, their dynamic is only getting better, and I still have a lot of love for these two.

Perhaps the best part of this book is that the reader finally becomes aware of just how epic the nature of this world is, and how Anne Bishop gets us to this point after three books of careful world building and creating an entire mythology. I found the Elders to be terrifying yet fascinating, and I think that Marked in Flesh has a lot to say about humanity within those 400 pages. The greed and prejudice of man make them capable of horrible things, and that idea is a central theme of this book.

I won’t get into specific events because I don’t want to completely spoil things, but suffice it to say that Marked in Flesh was a great fourth installment in what has become my favorite urban fantasy series. Despite a slow start, Marked in Flesh will definitely leave readers anxiously awaiting book five!

Rating: 3.5 stars

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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