March 4th was one of those days where I almost called in sick and instead had to settle for wishing my commute was longer so I could read just one more chapter. Because March 4th was the day Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop was released.
Meg’s settled into life at the Lakeside Courtyard. Sort of. After the events of Written in Red, Simon and Company are reluctant to leave her alone for too long. The story opens with Meg kicking Simon out of her bed – literally – when she wakes screaming from a nightmare. It’s hard to tell if the nightmare is a memory or a piece of a possible future, but the incident spurs Meg’s need to cut more and more. And it takes her relationship with Simon in a new, and not exactly welcome, direction.
Everything I loved about Written in Red is back in Murder of Crows. Well, with the exception of the ponies. They don’t put in much of an appearance, much to my disappointment. There’s so much else to love and squee over with this book, though, that you don’t notice it. Meg’s making friends, not just with the Others, but with the human women who work in the Courtyard, and the parts of the story where they’re trying to explain physical chemistry and attraction to Meg is awkward, funny, and kind of sweet. There’s less of her day to day routine here, and more focus on her interactions with the Others, the way they’re trying to reconcile being friends, or friendly, with a human with their instincts to eat her. She is, after all, little more than clever meat.
Simon’s struggle with their friendship is interesting, too. He can’t forget what he is, but the longer he’s around Meg, the easier it gets for him to see her as something other than “not prey”, which is how the Others think of the cassandra sangue. You can see the direction they’re headed, whether they realize it or not, but it’s going to be a very long, and likely bumpy, road. So long, in fact, it’s entirely possible Bishop’s got something else up her sleeve for the pair.
While a lot of the book focuses on Meg and Simon, this is still a very plot-driven story. The drugs that popped up in Red are becoming more widespread, and Meg’s prophecies are clues to a much larger plan, with everyone in the Courtyard getting in on the game. When Simon figures out where the drugs are coming from, the drive to stop them from being made and distributed collide with his confused feelings for the blood prophet. Bishop weaves and tangles together the two major parts of the story with skill, and to slight one side would be a detriment to the other.
She introduces a few new characters this time around, sliding them into their places amongst the Others seamlessly. Because so much of the worldbuilding was established in the first book, there’s less of it here, but what there is, is nuanced without being too bogged down in the details. As violent as it can get, the world of the Others is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to be. Once I finished Murder of Crows, I immediately wanted to flip back to the beginning and start all over again.
In fact, I think I’m gonna go do that.