This is the first book Bishop has written in the world of the Others, away from the town of Lakeside, Meg Corbyn and Simon Wolfgard, and moves to another, smaller town/village to the east called Sproing.
The terra indigene are everywhere, as this town is in the Finger Lakes area of the Northeast and it is much wilder country here. There are some wineries and a few lakeside resorts for people wanting to take a vacation.
The humans are still very wary of the terra indigene, as they should be. The Elders took matter into their own hands previously and destroyed a great many humans and their towns because of the vicious Humans First and Last League.
The humans needed to be reminded of just who was the dominate predator on the planet…and that would be the “Others” as humans name them. Shape-shifters all: crows, bears, hawks, panthers, wolves, etc. as well as the Elementals: Water, Air, Earth and so on, and the Sanguinati, who are vampires.
And over all these, The Elders: Namid’s (the name of the planet) “teeth and claws.” They are the ultimate enforcers for the lives of the Others and see humans’ basically as vermin and prey.
But of course, humans being what they are…there are ones who feel the Others are still just boogeymen to frighten people into sticking to their tiny towns and villages and terrified of going out at night, especially in the countryside. And more importantly, frightened of stretching out financially and grabbing real estate when there is so much uncultivated…empty…land (which of course is NOT really empty).
This brings us to timid Vicki DeVine, recently divorced from the slimy, abusive Yorick Dane. She has been given the rundown resort called The Jumble on the edge of Lake Silence as a part of her divorce settlement. It needs a lot of work to make it thrive. But Vicki is determined to bring it back to its original glory, with upgrades. And is helped by the friendly Aggie, a member of the local Crowgard.
There are a few restrictions to Vicki’s plans: The buildings can be redone completely…but there can be no additional buildings or add-ons. Trees can be judiciously culled for firewood. There is land set aside to grow food, and gardens. There is one narrow access road. Boats are allowed in the lake, but no motors can be used. There is no boating or swimming in the south end of the lake.
That’s it. The local terra indigene do not mind The Jumble, they see it as a useful spot, a safe zone, for the Others to get to know humans and human ways…
But again, on their terms.
The bad guys in this tale, led by Vicki’s ex Yorick, are out to finagle some real estate/financial dealings...hoping to force Vicki out of The Jumble so they can expand it into this top notch huge resort.
They, of course, do not think anything or anyone will oppose their scheme.
Wrong. Oh, so wrong.
Vicki is liked by the local terra indigene, especially as she has become their Readersomeone who will read them stories whether they are human or Other in origin. The Others love being read to (and watching TV for that matter).
They do not take kindly to Vicki’s ex trying to railroad her out of the Jumble.
Into this picture comes human Wayne Grimshaw highway patrolling policeman sent to Sproing when a dead body is found at the Jumble. (the town has no police department at the moment). Wayne meets up with a long-lost friend there named Julian who he’d been in the police academy with, and who now, runs a book store called “Lettuce Reed” (the Others came up with the title...and that is how they spelled it).
These two are the humans that help Vicki, along with the local Sanguinati, Ilya (and his CPA partner, Natasha), who owns a lot of the property and eventually controls the bank. Oh, and becomes Vicki’s lawyer when Yorick and his consortium show up at the Jumble intending to get rid of Vicki.
My caveat: Vicki is a bit of a blob. I love it that she’s not svelte and scrappy…but plump and scrappy…except when she has huge paralyzing panic attacks which brings out the over-protective Others into full predator mode. I like it that they are there in the shadows willing to strike back at the toilets that are trying to rip Vicki off. But…she’s yet another scared, wounded soul, like Meg Corbyn in the previous novels. I know she is the way she is because she was married for ten years to a total slime dog who emotionally tore her down until she finally gets the gumption up for divorce. But I kind of hate that she is so broken and terrified….just like Meg.
It would be great if Bishop could come up with a lead female character who’s not so damaged and dependent on the strength (and claws and teeth) of the Others to get her out of human-created jams.
…but otherwise, this was a fun story and a nice expansion into the world of the Others. ~~ Sue Martin
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