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WesternSFA


Wild Country
World of the Others #2
by Anne Bishop
Ace, $27.00, 496pp
Published: March 2019

There are ghost towns in the world—places where the humans were annihilated in retaliation for the slaughter of the shape-shifting Others.

One of those places is Bennett, a town at the northern end of the Elder Hills—a town surrounded by the wild country. Now efforts are being made to resettle Bennett as a community where humans and Others live and work together. A young female police officer has been hired as the deputy to a Wolfgard sheriff. A deadly type of Other wants to run a human-style saloon. And a couple with four foster children—one of whom is a blood prophet—hope to find acceptance.

But as they reopen the stores and the professional offices and start to make lives for themselves, the town of Bennett attracts the attention of other humans looking for profit. And the arrival of the outlaw Blackstone Clan will either unite Others and humans...or bury them all.

“Wild Country” is the second book in Anne Bishop's series The World of the Others. While I hadn’t read the first book, I decided to try this based on the description of the world and having read some of the author's other books. It sounded original; a post-apocalyptic story with a paranormal setting. I was satisfied with the story and liked the well-developed characters.

The story is set in and around the town of Bennett, a town whose human population was wiped out as a warning by The Elders (in charge of the Others) due to the annihilation of the Others. Now Bennett must rebuild with Tolya Sanguinati in charge and Virgil Wolfgard as Sheriff. Tolya, as counseled by Jesse Walker, an Intuit living in nearby Prairie Gold, opens the town to both humans and Others to repopulate the town, also allowing both to begin a new life. But as people arrive, so, too, do strangers who have their own motives that are far from harmless. If they get their way, the town will be destroyed once again. Will the Others and humans unite to prevent it or will their divisions help destroy them all?

One of the elements I liked the best is the world. Anne Bishop has created a realistic and believable world, one which is set in the future or an alternate version of our world. That flavor of the past woven into the threads of this world lends it an air of both mystery and familiarity, like a song that you almost remember. I like the mystery of puzzling out what parts of the world are familiar and which have been changed. I also appreciate the decision-making, what elements she has kept, like guns and vehicles and which are in short supply, like gasoline and the use of trains to transport people when resources are in short supply. These kind of details are what make an intriguing world and one that keeps readers engaged.

She has also created diverse and interesting characters. Jana, a human recruited as a deputy became the focal point of the story for me. She’s smart, driven and willing to take risks for a better life in Bennett. It’s easy to empathize with her character. Beyond her, though, Anne Bishop does a great job of ensuring all the characters are relatable, even the antagonists. Every character has a motive and a background. Virgil Wolfgard and Tolya Sanguinati, two of the main Other characters, don’t behave like humans. They behave like people but not humans. They behave like Others and have different motivations than the humans. They want the town safe but the past experiences with humans have colored how they treat the humans.  I like that we see part of the story from their point of view and I also like that they don’t act human in any way. It makes for a much richer story. As part of that, I like her unique take on the paranormal and the names she's chosen for the characters. It makes it clear what type of shifter they are and makes the story easier to read.

The story manages the unusual. Even without having read the first novel, I was able to completely enjoy the plot. While occasionally I felt like some of the references should be ones I knew, it didn't detract from the overall story and the ending left me wanting more.

If there's anything that detracts from the enjoyment, it is that some of the characters aren't fully developed. While they might be minor characters, I felt like they are important to the story and should be better detailed. Instead, they feel like the author might be planning to use them in future novels. The main characters are wonderfully written, though, and overall the novel is well written.

I really enjoyed the writing and look forward to more in the series. I especially want to go back and check out the first novel in this universe. If you like paranormal or post-apocalyptic, I highly recommend this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5 ~~ Andrea Rittschof

For more titles in this series click here
For more titles by Anne Bishop click here

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