A shout out to Romancing the Dark Side: thanks for cluing me onto this great book!
While I don't mind an occasional Paranormal mystery, I simply don't read paranormal romances or romances of any kind. I love a good girl gets guy story as much as the next, but they tend to be Jane Austen books or The Scarlet Pimpernel. And I will always focus on the history or other aspects over the romance. *Shrugs* My priorities.
However, after reading a great review of this book, I simply had to give it a try. And boy, am I glad I did.
Bishop creates a wonderful alternate version of our history and our world. A short but highly detailed first chapter gives us a good explanation and an interesting history lesson on this strange yet familiar world. This even includes different names for the days. This allows the reader to match what they're familiar with and those they aren't. She also carries through with her changes, making her world very stable and believable. I have to admit, I think I like this more then the paranormal leaping form the shadows in our own world. This world is other, as are some of the beings inhabiting it.
The characters are complex, interesting, and very human (even when they aren't). Meg is the main character and we see most of the book through her perspective. The focus does shift so we see parts of the narrative with other, thus giving the reader extra information, but mostly we stay with Meg. I'm not complaining. She's one pretty neat lady; vulnerable, at times naive, and at times too stubborn, her strength of will gave her the ability to escape slavery and she cares about the people around her - whether human or Other. I was turning the pages to learn more about her as much as I was for the plot (and that doesn't happen often). I hope to learn more about Lieutenant Montgomery as well, I have high hopes for his character in the future.
It was the development of the various Others where the book showed its depth. Many of them: Shape-shifters, Vampires, and Elementals are shown in depth and we are able to understand these are Other. They are neither humans turned into paranormals nor are they sparkly, vegetarians. At first, I wasn't even sure I would be able to read this, as there were a couple of...difficult scenes near the beginning. While the gore isn't overdone, it's more then I usually care to read. But as Meg comes to know them more, the reader comes to understand them. They are complex. I like them and I don't; and I like that Bishop did not make them 'human' and easy to like. This world and its inhabitants are complicated, not altogether nice...and very real. I think my top three are the bear (I've totally forgot his name! shameful), Vlad, and Tess. The last scares the I don't know what out of me, but I like her connection with Meg. Also Grandfather Erebus...*smile*.
The plot was interesting, though a bit predictable at times. Parts of it were telegraphed - some purposefully but some not at all. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy seeing it unfold.(show spoiler)
I'm waiting impatiently for the sequel from the library, which should be enough info on how much I liked this book. This is a good book within its genre for both fans and newcomers.