Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Book Review: Wild Country by Anne Bishop

Wild Country
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: The World of the Others, Book 2)
Publication: Ace (March 5, 2019)

Description: In this powerful and exciting fantasy set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, humans and the shape-shifting Others will see whether they can live side by side...without destroying one another.

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.

My Thoughts: This second book in the World of the Others is a Western complete with outlaws, cattle rustlers and con men. Bennett was one of the towns where the Others killed everyone in retaliation for members of Humans First killing terra indigene. However, it's position on the railroad and its role as a transportation hub means that the terra indigene don't want to lose it. Neither do the humans in the area that survived the purge.

Grandfather Erebus has put Tolya Sanguinati in charge. He has been working with Jesse Walker, an Intuit from Prairie Gold, to determine what kind of population they need to make the town viable. The Lakeside Courtyard has held some hiring fairs to find Intuits and Simple Life people to fill needed positions - ranch hands, doctors, lawyers, among others. But other people are taking a look at Bennett as an opportunity too.

Jana Paniccia isn't an Intuit or Simple Life but an anonymous phone call sends her to the Lakeside Courtyard looking for a job as a Deputy. She has faced all sorts of harassment to go through the Police Academy but can't find a job because she's a woman even though jobs are unfilled after the Great Predation. She has a chip on her shoulder, no real life experience, and a need to protect and serve even if it means working with Sheriff Virgil Wolfgard who has no reason to like humans.

Also there is Barbara Ellen Debany (Barb) who is an almost-vet and taking care of all the abandoned pets left in Bennett. Since her brother is one of the cops working with the Lakeside Courtyard, the Others take a special interest in her.

There are so many interesting characters in this one. From a family with same sex parents who have adopted four kids - a wolf, a coyote, a hawk, and a blood prophet - to a Harvester named Scythe who is running the local saloon. There's a family with a Skippy child who are looking for a place that accepts her. There is a member of the panthergard and his adopted human brother who is likely the son of a blood prophet.

Bennett is also becoming a magnet for a wide variety of outlaws. Parlen Blackstone is the head of an Intuit clan of gamblers and con men who have usually ridden the trains to keep them one step ahead of their victims. His daughter Abigail ran away from him three years earlier and has been hiding under a different persona in Prairie Gold. Her ability to sense which jewel can match with a person to bring them luck - or disaster - is a very unusual Intuit ability. I liked that the names of the outlaws hearkened back to the Wild West - the Bonneys, the Parkers.

I liked the bits of humor in the story too. Jana's new puppy and his toy Cowboy Bob added some lightness to a rather dark story and gave a chance to see how Others and humans can look at the same thing in two very different ways.

This was a story that didn't focus on one character. The focus seemed to me about trying to build a community made up of all varieties of humans and Others. It was about fighting for that community and that vision and the bumps along the way and the costs of trying for that vision.

Favorite Quote:
"They brought those children here to learn to be who they are, where they could be who they are. This is Bennett. Who will care if a boy can shift into a wolf? Here they don't need to be a secret in order to be protected."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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