Cover Image: Etched in Bone

Etched in Bone

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Very exciting conclusion to the series that started with Written in Red. For readers already loving the series, this satisfies most things about Meg's story while leaving more room in the world of The Others for new stories to be told. For new readers, I would suggest going back and starting with Written in Red to get the full impact.
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Is it possible for Anne Bishop to write a bad book?  As far as I'm concerned the answer is no.  I love these characters, I love this plot and I LOVED this book.  This might be a paranormal book but it is so much more than that, the dynamics between the characters and the storyline feel so real and so relevant.  I really did love this.
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Fantastic world building! Bishop describes and delights the reader with a world so different and yet there are some remarkable similarities.
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Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop is the 5th book in her wonderful The Others series.  Anne Bishop is one of the authors that are always on the top of my list.  She never ever fails in giving us another fantastic story in each of everyone of her series.   Etched in Bone ends the Meg/Simon story arc, and it was a fabulous and exciting ending.  I know Anne will continue The Others world in a different arc that will come next year, but I will miss the wonderful characters in Lakeside.

At the end of the last book (Marked in Flesh), the feared Elders (old time powerful  Others) and Elementals eliminated the humans who plotted and brutally killed many of the terra indigene (the Others) throughout the world.  A refresher:  The Others are non humans, such as wolves, crows, vampires, elementals, grizzlies, etc), who control most of the world. The series revolves around Meg Corbyn, a human, who is also a blood prophet. Since Meg has arrived in Lakeside Courtyard, the terra indigene have protected her and learned to change their ways to live with humans.

In Etched in Bone. Lakeside and other communities, who have survived the mass destruction work toward returning things to normal.  Bishop does a wonderful job allowing us to see how Meg has helped changed both human and others perspectives.  The police play a big part in this story, with Monty in the middle, since his brother has come to live in Lakeside.  Jimmy Montgomery is bad to the bone, and upon arrival has expected to live freely, taking whatever he wants; but soon, the Others begin to see that he is trouble.  When Simon and his group want to evict Jimmy immediately, they are stopped by two Elders, who want to learn more how humans and the others get along; they want to see how Jimmy is different than other humans.

Jimmy was one of those nasty people who will use his own family to benefit him.  A few of times during the story, he plots to take what doesn’t belong to him, and even with the dire result on the first attempt, he continues to plot again.  Monty and Twyla (their mother) have to separate themselves from him, so not to be in the middle of the eventual fallout; and throughout the story, we kept hoping for nasty Jimmy to be thrown out of Lakeside. 

The last third of the book was extremely exciting, with pulse pounding action that had us on the edge of our seat.  Meg’s life was in danger, and they all knew, if anything happens to our Meg, poor Simon would leave Lakeside heartbroken.  It will take the police, the Elders and the rest of the terra indigene to work together to try and save Meg. Will Meg survive? Will Simon and Meg finally find a way to be together?

What I loved the most about Etched in Bone was spending time, and probably our last with these wonderful fantastic characters Anne Bishop has given us….Meg, Simon, Vlad, Tess, Sam, Nathan, Henry, Merri Lee, Monty, Burke,Skippy, &  the Elementals, just to name a few. I for one will sorely miss them .  I also love that Anne has given us a satisfactory conclusion to Simon & Meg (and Sam).  Bravo Anne Bishop for another fantastic book, and series that no one should miss.  I wholly recommend you read The Others series by starting with the first book, Written in Red.
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There's a very good reason why, after almost 2 decades, Anne Bishop is still my favorite author. She has an incredibly unique voice and way of telling stories that continues to resonate with me. This seemingly final book in the Lakeside Courtyard's story was extremely engrossing. I tried to take my time with it, but of course felt like I was racing through the pages to reach the end. I must admit that as a fan of romance, there was not as much payoff in that arena as I would have liked, but overall, I was completely engaged and satisfied with where the story went. What this book did that I loved more than anything else was make me anticipate the expanded world and future stories for the series.
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Review:

What I Liked:

Characters. As usual the characters were my favorite aspect of the novel. I loved going back to my favorites, Meg, Simon, Sam, Skippy, and others while also meeting new characters. I'm excited to check out book 6 and met a whole new cast of well written characters from Bishop. 

World Building. Bishop has done a great job crafting a whole new world within this series. I'm always interested in learning more about the Others so I'm looking forward to the other books in the series.

Romance. Talk about a slow burn! I love slow burn romances, they feel more realistic to me than instant love but even I was getting impatient after five books for it to finally happen! However, it was so worth the wait, I enjoyed how naturally it happened. It did not feel rushed or faked at all. 

What I Disliked:

Pacing. I'm used to this being a slow paced series. However, I still struggled around the middle with the pacing. 

Plot. The main plot was okay but I wish they had focused less on the humans and more on the Others or the Elders. 

Point of View. I enjoyed reading from Simon and Meg's point of view but struggled with the other ones. I would have liked it more if they mainly kept to the two main characters instead of jumping around to other characters. 

I recommend checking out this urban fantasy series if you enjoy slow paced character driven novels!

Rating:


4 Stars Out of 5 Stars.
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I absolutely adore The Others series by Anne Bishop - which was why I found it rather shocking that I couldn't get into this one. It makes me SO sad because I was looking forward to it, and the rest of the series is epic!! I made it nearly halfway and I was so bored I couldn't continue. It became too political and technical for me - none of the magic that I loved so much about the first four books. Maybe one day I'll give it another go.
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As ever, Anne Bishop's book was amazing! The Others series is one of my favorites, in large part because Bishop focuses on the ways that physiology might impact psychology. In this book, I particularly love the way the book deals with the aftermath of the Others' brutal cleansing of the Humans First group and everyone who might have supported them. And of course, the continuing slow development of the relationship between Simon and Meg is an utter delight!

5 stars!

(reviewed on Amazon)
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This is not your average paranormal romance!  The character and world building are amazing, and the blending of ancient myth with modern issues is spot on.  The whole series is one big page-turner.
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Anne Bishop is another writer who I just can't get enough of.  Love The Others series and the world Anne has created.
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This was a powerful and amazing book. The perfect end (? maybe) to the courtyard others world. I hope Ms. Bishop goes back to them, but for now I'm content.
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Though it’s hard for me to choose just one, it’s definitely possible that Etched in Bone was my most highly anticipated book of 2017. Certainly, it’s the series I’ve put the most time into in the last couple years. I’ve read the first three books three times, and the fourth twice. Bishop recaps stuff well enough that there’s not a need to reread, but I wanted to because of how much I love this series and these characters. I wanted a bit more from the conclusion to this series, but I also couldn’t put it down. I’m just so not ready to say goodbye to the Lakeside Courtyard.


Bishop made some altogether strange narrative choices in Etched in Bone. Not bad, mind, but strange. One thing that’s been clear throughout the series is that she had this five book series planned when she was writing book one. She very obviously had a detailed outline or more, so I know that this is how she wanted the plot of the final book to be.

Etched in Bone is strange, because Marked in Flesh, from a plot perspective, is the high of the series. That’s where the Others defeat the big villain of the HFL and tighten their control of Thaisia. In Etched in Bone, the reader gets to see what the new normal after all of that, something that normally would be kept to an epilogue.

There IS a plot, but it’s anticlimactic compared to Marked in Flesh. While the stakes are high emotionally, with danger targeted on the Lakeside Courtyard again, much of the world was in danger in Marked in Flesh. Etched in Bone kept my attention, and, with the loss of most contact with other towns and thus the drop in POVs, the pace did move at a good pace, but it wasn’t the usual big, dramatic conclusion. In terms of narrative structure, this is a deeply odd way to end a series. I don’t even mean it as a negative really, but I’m puzzled for sure.

One of the things that worked really nicely about the plot of Etched in Bone is the focus on various forms of abuse. It’s not done in a lecture-y way, but there’s a clear portrayal of various kinds of abuse throughout the series. The villain, Cyrus, is quite obviously a psychopath, and he makes an interesting case study for the Elders who are trying to understand troublesome humans. Throughout the series, there have been so many examples of the way that humans destroy each other and let’s just say elements reflect our current political situation really well. If only we had badass paranormal creatures who could literally eat the shitty humans.

Honestly, I had to fight with my emotions a bit to rate this one appropriately. I’ve underrated basically all of the Others books the first time (or two) I read them, because I was shippily frustrated at the slow pace of Meg and Simon’s romance. I don’t want to do that here. But I am disappointed at how little focus the ship gets here (View Spoiler ») and that none of my side ships officially sailed. Like, Tess and Nyx are obviously going to bang, but the book didn’t confirm that for me and I’m annoyed. Also, I swear there was chemistry between Elliot and Twyla too. Bishop writes such good ship, and I’m surprised she didn’t deliver a few more intense swoony moments here in the end.

Taking all of that, I still love the fuck out of this series in general and this book specifically. Meg and the Courtyard crew are intensely precious to me, and I know them all really well because of the level of detail that Bishop puts into absolutely everything. This is one of the best urban fantasy/paranormal series out there, along with October Daye.

There’s a spin-off series set in the same world coming out next year, and I’m just crossing my fingers that Simon, Meg, and Sam will show up in those books. I need them in my life.
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This series is so much fun! I love the characters and the setting. The complex world is amazing and I can't wait to read more!
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GAHHHHH!!!! What is it with the number of series that have failed to stick the landing recently?! (“Recently” being my own recent reading history, mind). I guess I really should be reading the writing on the wall a bit better. Just like the Gemma Doyle series, Bishop’s “The Others” series has slowly, steadily, agonizingly determinedly, been working its way down the sad decline into the land of boredom and “who cares.” That “Etched in Bone” finally lands this decline at the very bottom and adds a nice kick in the butt right at the end for your effort…maybe shouldn’t be surprising.

There will be some spoilers in this review, because I’m definitely talking about the ending for this one!

It’s on the record that I didn’t love “Marked in Flesh,” either. But the one thing that it did deliver was the massive, destructive climax that had been building up between the Humans First and Last movement and the Others for the last several books. Shit went down. Cities were systematically wiped out. And because most of the human characters (other than all the special ones that seemed to live in Lakeside) were truly awful people, there was some sick joy in watching them go.

“Etched in Bone” opens shortly thereafter with the powers-that-be conferring together and still asking their one driving question: “How much Human do we keep?” To determine this, a select few travel to Lakeside to witness this hybrid example of Other/Human life being lived in harmony, all due to the changes brought about by Meg. With the massive damage dealt in the last book, this one had a problem right from the start: is it really credible that any humans would still be holding to these crazy views? Literally thousands of lives have been lost and the Others didn’t even blink an eye. It was hard to buy in the last several books that people could be willfully this stupid, but it got to a point of complete ridiculousness here.

And, as always, the villain character was the worst of it all. It seemed that he was evil purely for evil’s sake, and the fact that anyone would still buy his crazed philosophies after witnessing the prior destruction and knowing the thin knife’s edge that human life as a whole balanced upon was just too big an ask of my imagination.

On top of this all, the previous book also fully cracked the rose-colored lens through which I had been reading this series. It’s no surprise that I (and I believe many fans of these books) have been following the series primarily out of a love and interest in the two main characters, Simon and Meg. As their relationship has floundered (more on that) and more side characters have been introduced, the series’ flaws have begun to show more and more. Specifically, its very stereotypically gendered roles. References to the “female pack” that before were a funny little quirk, now read as supremely uncomfortable in light of the fact that all of the women, aside form a sassy elderly woman character, exist in very narrow confines. None of them are in leadership roles, and their friendships and lives are littered with pitfalls of silliness.

Beyond this, the series’ other main weakness has been a penchant for info-dumpy chapters full of mundane details. In my last review I complained about the pages devoted to stock piling toilet paper, and nothing has changed here. In the first few chapters, we’re already enduring pages and pages full of characters (not even the main ones!) discussing the ins and outs of Lakeside’s economy and trading. It’s just…dull.

And then. AND THEN! Simon and Meg. I knew I was going to be disappointed right from the beginning. In the end of the last book, it seemed that there were a few steps being taken in the right direction. Meg asked Simon to go skinny dipping, very PG skinny dipping of course, but still. But here, in the second chapter of the dang book, we have Simon recounting how that pretty much went nowhere and that, while he was potentially interested in Meg that way, he wasn’t willing to risk there friendship. And then Meg gets her own chapter and what do you know? She thinks the same! And so on and so on. Any progress that readers thought they saw in the last book was immediately walked back, and for the majority of this book, it was business as usual.

Until the end. And what do we get? What do we get for sticking through 5 damn books of packing lists and excruciating infodump conversations? We get one, very brief scene where Meg and Simon agree to try to make something work. And a kiss. IT’S ONE SCENE AT THE END OF THE BOOK!! There is no build up. There is no follow through. No relationship learning and stumbles. Nothing.

Not only do we get absolutely nothing out of this scene, but this same chapter could have been tacked on to the ending of any of the 3 books that came before it and you wouldn’t have noticed. We’ve all been going along trusting that this slow burn relationship was just that, a slow burn relationship. Instead, now, we realize we’ve been tricked the whole time. It wasn’t a slow burn, it was nothing. “Slow burn” implies we are building towards something. This book makes it very clear that either Bishop didn’t know what to do with these characters’ relationship (and hasn’t for the last several books) or never cared to begin with and just tacked it into a series where her main interest was writing about the minute details of the world itself, only to be dismayed by fan reaction and throw in this final scene as some attempt to quell readers.

At this point, anyone who is reading this book has read the ones that came before it. If you did enjoy those, maybe this one won’t be as frustrating for you, as much of the actual plot is lather, rinse, repeat with the conflict between dumb, evil people and the Others who are bizarrely still enamored by Meg (her special snowflake status has reached a peak, if you’re curious). But I have a hard time seeing many longtime fans being satisfied with this conclusion. I know I’m not.

Rating 2: Not only did this book continue to trot out the tired themes of the previous books, it failed to provide any resolution for the one part of the story that had retained any of my interest throughout.
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The series is over. It's the end. :(

I wanted to read this book but I didn't want to since it's the final book of the series. But once I started I was hooked and didn't want to put it down. Who needs to show up for work?  Oh wait, I do. But even with work and some sleep, I still managed to get it read in under 24 hours.

 I didn't love this one but I did like it and each time I re-read it, I like it more. Yes, I've read it several times. In fact, when I started working on this review, I began re-reading it and had to force myself to put it down. It's definitely an enthralling and engaging story. In some ways, it's more personal than the other books in the series. There are no major external events; most of the focus is on smaller events, though they have an impact on the larger community. The story deals with Detective Montgomery's brother Cyrus, and his family, as well as their sister Sissy, and their mother Twyla. The other Courtyard humans, Merri Lee, Eve, etc. have smaller roles this time around and there wasn't nearly enough of Henry or Tess to suit me. There were lots of characters this time around so it was inevitable that some of them would have less page time. 
 
Jimmy at times bordered on being unbelievable, and over the top. His wife Sandee and their kids received little in the way of development. Little sister Sissy was fleshed out more but her kids were stick figures, serving only to move certain points in the story along. Now Skippy, that atypically developing juvenile Wolf, had a heartbreaking scene but it also gave me hope for him. And Henry, though he played a smaller role this time around, had a wonderful scene with some of the Elders concerning Meg. It made me cheer despite what else was going on.
 
The Elders, who are the ultimate alphas and frighten even Simon, play a bigger role in the story than in previous stories, and while they are by no means warm and fuzzy, I had to laugh at Meg's interactions with them. And poor Nathan, the watch Wolf; he just about had a heart attack trying to keep Meg safe. And while she was safe from the Elders, she was still in danger. Even though I was sure she would be okay, I was on edge, worried about her, and hoping she'd be okay. After all she'd been through, she deserved a happy ending. 

Bishop wrapped up most of the story lines and threads from the previous books. And while I was absolutely sure after reading the first book that Simon and Meg would never end together, my friend Nifty disagreed, and she was right. While their relationship is atypical for both humans and terra indigene, it works for them. I had hoped for a more concrete resolution but it's a happy ending and a happy-ish future for humans. Complex, rich in detail, relevant to today's world yet original, "Etched in Bone" was a satisfying conclusion to the series and one I'll continue to re-read.
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Etched in Bone was not as enjoyable as the previous entries in The Others series.  At this point the plot is getting a little stale and repetitive, and this entry reminded me too much of the previous title.  However, those who are vested in the characters will enjoy seeing the relationship between Simon Wolfgard and Meg Corbyn continued development.
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I've been with this series all the way, but I thought it faltered here at the end.  After the world-altering events of the previous book, the plot in this seemed out of whack.  Most of the book centers around a no-good brother to policeman Monty.  Jimmy brings his family (wife and two kids) to Lakeside in hopes that he can mooch off of his sister and mother and maybe make some money from shady dealings.  

After the Others reached the end of their patience with humans in the last book, it stretches credulity to the breaking point that they'd allow this jerk to stay.  There's some hand-waving about the more powerful Others wanting to figure out human behavior and figuring this guy can be sort of a experiment to see what humans do, but honestly?  I think he'd have been wolf chow long before he tries half the stuff he does if the characters were true to their previous characterization.  

And that's pretty much all the book is about.  This piece of crap terrorizes his sister, uses his children as cover for his crimes, works deals with whatever criminals he can find in town, and is generally a waste of flesh.  Plus, he seems utterly unaware of the nature of the Others and that he is treading on dangerous ground.  I just couldn't understand this.  Several cities have just been DESTROYED and this guy just calls the Others "freaks" and thinks that they will just put up with whatever he does????  This is not consistent with the world that's been developed, where all humans are aware that they exist on sufferance of the Others and have seen over and over again that they are considered prey.  

Naturally, Meg is put in danger by this guy by the end of the book in a rather disturbing sequence of events.  

I haven't really shipped Simon and Meg.  It's clear that they are different species and while a wolf and a human could certainly bond, I'd never be rooting for them to actually mate.  But... it's that kind of series in the end.  Although it's all pretty G-rated, thank god.  

I think the series should have ended with the previous book.
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Anne Bishop has thrilled me with The Others series. I was so involved with Meg and Simon, I was rereading the previous books like a junkie. The relationship between them was a slow build, but so perfect. I was swooning every time that they interacted. I love the ending but would adore of this series.
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reviewed for smexybooks http://smexybooks.com/2017/03/review-etched-in-bone-by-anne-bishop.html
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It was a nice conclusion to the series, and I'm glad there was some focus back on Simon and Meg. They were barely in any scenes together in the previous book!
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