I love these books Bishop has written about a world where shape shifters, vampires, etc.…called the terra indigene are the dominant life forms on an alternate Earth. Humans are just a species of prey for the Others (as the terra indigene are also called), albeit smart monkeys who do develop the use of electricity, manufacture gasoline and electronics, etc.
This story picks up shortly after the ending of the last novel when the normally elusive Elders, “The teeth and claws of Namid” (as the world is called) come out in force and utterly destroy the “Humans First and Last League” throughout Namid, and most especially in an area called Cel-Romano situated in an alternate Europe.
The surviving humans have been put on notice. No more treating the terra indigene as less or as “freaks.” Humans clearly know now they are living only by the sufferance of the non-humans.
In Lakeside, somewhere in the upper Midwest, we are back with Meg Corbyn , a cassandra sanguea human woman who can predict the future, if she is cut and bleeds. Meg had been tortured by other humans wanting her ability to predict the future until she escaped the compound in which she was jailed. She found sanctuary in “The Courtyard” of Lakeside, where the Others have homes and businesses. She is very close to her roommate Simon Wolfgard, a human/wolf shifter and his young nephew, Sam. They help her find her place and reintroduce her to the “normal” world of humans in Namid, as well as the wonderful array of terra indigene.
Things have quieted down into a tentative peace. The humans of Lakeside get along for the most part with the Others of the town. Though, because of the recent chaos, communications and services between towns can be spotty.
But of course, the peace cannot last. Into Lakeside comes Jimmy, brother of popular police officer Monty. He brings his girlfriend Sandee and two children, Frances and Clarence. Monty had been able to convince the others to let his mother Twyla, his sister Sierra and her children come to Lakeside before the Elders destroyed the Humans First and Last movement elsewhere. But Monty had not been able to contact Jimmy to get him out of the city of Toland and it wasn’t certain he had survived the ensuing chaos.
Well, he had and he brings his bad snarly attitude to Lakeside looking to make trouble and creating scams for money to get what he wants. He resents his brother, doesn’t like his mom much and viciously manipulates his sister (as well as Sandee and the kids).
But Jimmy isn’t the only new visitor to Lakeside. Two Elders, aware of this new human’s presence, have come to watch Jimmy’s interactions with the humans and terra indigene of Lakeside. A human who appears to be only a threat to the other humans by his actions alone and not to the others. He is a puzzle to the Elders. So instead of eating him, they let him wreak his own personal havoc in Lakeside, especially destroying the emotional lives of Monty and his family.
But Jimmy, not having much success with his current batch of scams, eventually focuses on Meg once he realizes she has worth as a soothsayer. He decides to kidnap her so he can make money off her prophecy elsewhere by pimping out her services for big bucks.
This, as you can imagine, does not end well. The Others of Lakeside revere and protect Meg. Jimmy who wants nothing to do with the non-human residents of Lakeside has no idea what he’s stirred up.
And the Elders finally decide enough is enough.
As with Bishop’s other novels in this series, this was a really gripping story---EXCEPT for Jimmy. Bishop’s Jimmy is a two-dimensional stereotype: a conniving, slimy member of the ‘hood trying to con, rip off and scam everyone around him. He is a sleaze ball of the worst kind into drugs, robbery and pimping. And guess what? Jimmy is black. Throughout this novel it irritated me constantly that Bishop would utilize such a negative unimaginative stereotype as her villain.
Bishop has proven what a sharp, creative imagination she has. Why she sank to this, I have no idea. It was unnecessary and ultimately destroyed my enjoyment of this book. ~~ Sue Martin
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