Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to…
Author: Anne Bishop
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Audio Speed: 1.25x
Series: The Others #4
Marked in Flesh is the fourth title in Anne Bishop’s amazingly interesting and utterly unique fantasy/urban fantasy series know as The Others. For newcomer’s to the series: you cannot start here, in fact, if you’ve missed any titles, I strongly urge you to read all the books before cracking open Marked in Flesh. This book is the culmination of all that has come before, in the previous three books. The books are all interrelated and build upon one other, making it important to start with the first book in the series, Written in Red.
Ms. Bishop has developed a world where creatures known as the terra indigene, or Others, are Mother Earth’s favored creations and the top predators on the food chain. The Others have the ability to shape shift into forms such as wolves, crows, bears, and even vampires, and those are the most tame of the Others. After befriending Meg Corbyn, a special human known as a cassandra sangue, the Others in the Lakeside Courtyard continue to adjust to having a “human pack” within their own, even learning to trust and care about these humans.
Tension is at an all-time-high, as Nicholas Spark and his Humans First and Last (HFL) movement become irresponsibly aggressive in attempts to claim the land of the terra indigene. With events occurring simultaneously across the land, the story is shared from multiple points-of-view, with focuses in Lakeside (Meg, Vlad, Simon), Sweetwater (Jackson Wolfguard, Hope), and Prairie Gold (Joe Wolfguard, new Intuits). Additionally, there is follow up from Great Island and Talulah Falls, where there was much action and strife in the previous book.
Marked in Flesh is my favorite book of the series by far. Finally, we see all the working parts of the story come together for what looks to be the final showdown between the humans and Others. Ms. Bishop is able to capture the fears of the human pack and Intuits as they process just what it means to face extinction. Conversely, I loved seeing the Others, most especially Simon, struggle with how much human to keep – whether it be human traits, human-run business, or actual humans. The time spent pondering these questions is both thought-provoking and utterly engrossing.
Yet it is the characters, who I’ve come to know and care about over the course of the series, that push the stories beyond good to fantastic. At the heart are Meg and Simon, two very different individuals whose unique friendship continues to grow and evolve. Their relationship is so earnest and honest that I can’t help but feel completely tied to the pair as they navigate new waters (literally). It’s their friendship that is the cornerstone of human-terra indigene interactions and even the basis for human survival.
Beyond Meg and Simon, there are a dozen or more humans and Others that are central to the continuing plot line, with additional characters introduced in Marked in Flesh. Their common struggles coupled with individual worries and concerns help shape deeply emotional stories, ones that cause joy and worry in my own heart.
The narration of the series has been a sticking point for my enjoyment of the titles in the past. I felt that Ms. Harris spoke too slowly, too simply. However, this time around, I was able to listen to the book at 1.25x (I had only been able to listen at 1x speed in the past), and what a difference it made. I have always enjoyed Ms. Harris’s portrayal of Meg: young and naive, yet inquisitive and ready to fight for those she cares about. Hearing Ms. Harris as Meg for the fourth time further cemented this in my mind. However, hearing the other characters at the faster speed was a huge improvement and worked much better for me. Their voices were familiar, yet improved.
In the end, Marked in Flesh is an amazing story, filled with intense emotions and moments. I was fearful, I cried, I laughed, and I had hope for the future. Ms. Bishop laid the groundwork for Marked in Flesh in the previous three titles, and the culmination of the stories explodes within the pages of this book.
My Rating: A