Pros: Creative and original
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Anne Bishop’s Lake Silence (World of the Others, The Book 1) takes place in the same world as her other “The Others” books, but it doesn’t follow Meg, Simon, and the Lakeside Courtyard. Instead it takes place in the strangely-named town of Sproing (the reason for that name is both adorable and slightly scary). It’s a town of just 300 people, and it doesn’t even have a police officer. When Vicki DeVine, who runs a vacation house-plus-cabins called “The Jumble,” calls to report a dead body, Officer Wayne Grisham comes from Bristol to check things out. Unfortunately, a crime investigation unit is dispatched from more-distant Putney, and the man running that team seems to have it in for Vicki. Vicki’s sole current lodger is a Crowgard, Aggie. And since the Jumble was originally conceived of as a place where Others and humans could interact, the Others are inclined to protect Vicki, who so far has done well by them. Grimshaw and local Intuit bookstore owner Julian Farrow do what they can to protect Vicki, whose emotionally abusive ex-husband is wrapped up in trying to take away the Jumble, which she gained in their divorce. The selfish desires of a handful of businessmen set them on a collision course with the interests of the Others, in a clash that could wipe out Sproing if things go wrong.
The Others novels are kind of a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the new age, a sort of combination of utopian/dystopian worldbuilding. Food is scarce and often rationed. Violent and unfathomable Others wipe out large portions of humanity, many of whom are innocent. Yet those who work well with the Others and do their best always end up with a community that will care for them, friends who will share with them, and just enough work that they’re capable of making a living. To be honest, I’d love to live in that world. Since the economy has become so scary, that kind of surety seems a little surreal. While Vicki doesn’t have Meg’s problems, she is prone to anxiety attacks thanks to the lessons her ex-husband has instilled in her. Again Bishop shows us a world in which the disabled have a place and are allowed to work in ways that work for them. Vicki is protected by the Sanguinati (vampires), who shepherd her through the ways in which her husband tries to use the legal system against her. Julian, who kind of has a thing for her, watches out for her safety. The Crowgard are also protective of Vicki.
The bad guys in these novels are a little one-note evil, but having the force-of-nature Others to contrast them to makes things more interesting. I love that Vicki isn’t some stunning, willowy, model-like woman who happens to have been convinced by her ex that she’s unattractive. She’s overweight and has hair that won’t obey her, and it makes her much easier to identify with, and to understand how her ex could have undermined her self-esteem so readily.
These stories are beautiful and wild, with plenty of danger yet the satisfaction of seeing the bad guys ripped limb-from-limb. Note that there’s some adult material in here, although there’s no explicit sex. The worldbuilding and society-building are both intriguing, and the characters have depth. I’m looking forward to more from Bishop!