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WesternSFA
Murder of Crows
by Anne Bishop
ROC, $26.95, 354pp
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
This is the second in the series The Others. Click here to see a review of Written in Red.

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.

The story began in Written in Red with a young human-seeming woman stumbling into an enclave of Others and being hired to work as their Human Liaison. As we discovered in the first book, she isn’t altogether human. She had spent her entire life sequestered from the rest of humanity due to her gift of prophecy. She was kept by people who profited from her prophecies. She - and hundreds more like her. She found safe haven from her owner in a place where human laws didn’t apply but that didn’t mean he wasn’t done trying to recover his property.

This story picks up mere weeks after the events of the first book. Meg is settling into a routine but still troubled by the need to cut herself and experience prophecies. Her protectors have absolutely no desire to use her prophecies and are even concerned that she should resist them entirely to preserve both her skin and her life. But that’s easier said than done when the urge to cut and prophesize becomes irresistible. She sees death for Crows (a species of Others) and Simon, her Wolf protector, is able to warn the Crows in time. But now The Others are aware that there are humans actually targeting them; a group named Humans First, Humans Last, who have a deadly fantasy of pushing The Others off the land and expanding humanity. Deadly because they don’t seem to know their own history or have any concept of exactly how many Others are on the continent – or how lethal they are. They seem to have forgotten that their ancestors forged contracts with The Others in exchange for the land and resources they now use; and that they remain there at the pleasure of The Others – millions of them, actually.

In addition to the threat to the Crows, they discover the Wolves are also being targeted as are some human settlements. It appeared that the human settlements were being used to test two new drugs intended for the Wolves. The shock in the story is when they discover how the drugs are being manufactured and the connection to the place where girls like Meg are kept and used. Finding the source of the drugs and stopping the abuse is harder than they anticipated as Meg didn’t really remember how she escaped or how she found her way to Lakeside Courtyard. In order to stop the attacks, and to prevent The Others from killing all the humans in the Midwest region, the Others and their human friends in the Lakeside Courtyard have to make an unprecedented effort to unite efforts of both Others and humans to find and specifically target those responsible.

Bishop has a wonderful talent of creating unhuman characters that are unique. She’s done this time and again in her previous series. To make an alien, most authors take a human model and tweak physical characteristics or give them special abilities but their characters still tend to have human reactions and emotions. Bishop is able to get past that and put us into the minds of creatures that are truly not human. Her plotting is also superb. I continue to revel in each Anne Bishop story and if you enjoy darker fantasy but without the current trend towards gothic-type detectives and such, I strongly recommend her. ~~ Catherine Book

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