“We are here. We are different but we stand united to protect our home. We are different but we protect our families by blood or by heart. We are different but not alone. Never alone.
We are here.”
Wild Country is a fun return to a world I came to love years ago, but from a side that felt fresh and new and even more dangerous than the original series. It was more vicious than preceding books, though it still maintained the simplicity that first made this world so appealing. However, the brutality and setting hardened some of the softness that made the original series so intriguing, and the inclusion of more sex and language than was used in previous books gave this new community a more jaded and less trusting level of interaction than the Courtyard that so entranced me in Meg Corbyn’s story.
There’s something so unique about Bishop’s created world of the Others. For one, there’s something innocent and simple about the Others themselves. The way the Others view the world and build their communities, even those shared with humans, harkens back to simpler times, reminding me almost of a frontier town with some additional technology thrown in. Mixed in with that innocence is a brutality that is jarring in comparison, and I think that combination is what makes this series unique in a market saturated with urban fiction.
What caused me to enjoy this book a bit less than those preceding it was the aforementioned lack of trust. I know that the Others are at odds with humans, who are constantly trying to usurp these beings that refuse to give them free rein of the world. However, what made the Courtyard of the original series so appealing was the fact that individual humans were always being added into this ring of trust by the Others, proving over and over that not all humans were greedy and selfish and willing to sacrifice others to get their way.
In Wild Country, the story takes place in Bennett, a town we were actually introduced to in a previous novel as the sight of a massacre staged by the Others as a retaliation for the slaughter of a pack of shifters. Obviously, humans moving back into this town is a very touchy subject, one that is handled very delicately. I understand that a lack of trust is obviously at the forefront of every mind here, human or Other. But after certain relationships are established and bonds are formed between certain humans and the Others in this area, I expected a certain level of trust to develop. While this does eventually happen, there were many missteps made first. This is absolutely realistic and understandable. What saddened me about it was the lack of optimism that made the original series such a joy to read. Don’t get me wrong, I still very much enjoyed this book, and trust was eventually reached, but the innocence that made this series so refreshing came across as a bit tarnished here. However, this is wild country, as the title reminds us, and the change in tone is something I should have expected.
Something I did really enjoy was Bishop’s attention to a group of people I found fascinating in previous books, the Intuits. These are humans with a mysterious additional sense. If they have a feeling about something, that feeling is not to be ignored. What I loved about this book in particular is Bishop’s demonstration that Intuits are always good people, as they are kind of presented in previous books. Here, we have Intuits as both heroes and villains, and I loved seeing how people on either side of that moral divide use their gifts.
There were some wonderful characters here, who did eventually grow to trust one another through the progression of the book, as well as exhibiting some endearing character development. Our main characters are in law enforcement together, but as one is human and the other is, well, Other, they knock heads in nearly every chapter. Once they come to an understanding, they become a type of mixed pack who would do anything to protect one another and those they’ve adopted into that pack.
HE HAS TEETH.
SHE HAS A GUN.
THEY ARE THE LAW.
All of that being said, I was still thrilled with my most recent visit to the world of the Others. It remains one of the most unique urban fantasies I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Nowhere else have I experienced this mix of innocence and brutality, and it’s an adventure I recommend to anyone who’s looking for something a little different.
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