After the deathly events that transpired in Marked in Death, with the Elders mass-murdering so many humans in revenge for the Others deaths caused by the Human First Movement, Etched in Bone brings a slower proceedings to this world. The pacing faltered at times, leaving this book anti-climatic, but still enjoyable to fans of this series. It brings a conclusion to Meg and Simon that friends of mine and myself have been waiting for with baited breath and a whole lot of nervousness.
The Lakeside Courtyard has the eyes of the Elders upon them. The Elders are sorta like Big-Brother, watching every moment between humans and others, which will decide the fate of how much Namid’s teeth and claws will allow humans to navigate the world. Simon is uneasy and has serious misgivings after the Elders order him to allow Monty’s brother to cause mischief–and worse–as an experiment inside the Courtyard. Not only does Jimmy bring trouble, but he brings a lot of pain and danger to everyone in the courtyard, with Monty doing his best to try and keep his family together and safe.
Marked in Flesh I struggled with at times, which I’m so sad to be writing. For one it took me a long time to read the book, whereas I glommed the previous installments. I suppose I was looking for something bigger and more epic after Marked in Flesh, but this book is quieter in tone that shows the conclusions of previous events in micro details that sometimes left me feeling a little bored. Too many details of small world-building that verged on info-dump. Another big issue of mine was Jimmy. Jimmy was so over-the-top bad that I really found it hard to read his POV.
Meg doesn’t seem to realise the danger of what is going on in the courtyard and there is a disconnect between her and Simon for a little part of the book. Meg is still learning the ways of tarot reading and she’s getting better at it, but the urge to cut will most likely always remain with her for the rest of her life. There’s not much that happens in this book with Meg until the very end. It’s mostly Monty’s brother causing trouble and the world readjusting itself. Though a message that runs through this series is how humans never learn and still keep making the same mistakes time and time again. Which is all too believable.
So while I had issues with this book, there are still many things to love–and those are the characters and the bond and friendship they have built, especially the exploding human fluffballs which have become part of the Courtyard pack. Another storyline that is resolved is the romance between Meg and Simon. I’m not gonna beat around the bush and be coy. I was super happy with how things ended between them, though I wished it had been a stronger thread throughout the book. Bishop also never lets you forget that the Others aren’t human. Bishop lulls you into thinking everything is going so nice and swimmingly and then BAM. She reveals the darker and primal instincts of the Others that makes you squeamish and reminds you they have no hesitation in thinking of humans as meat lol.
The ending was more action-paced and the bad guy gets his comeuppance in Others fashion. While I was somewhat disappointed in this book, I have loved the journey Anne Bishop has given to us and I’m so happy there is an upcoming spin-off novel. I don’t know if this is the last story of the Courtyard, but I really hope Bishop returns. I so want Vlad to have his own book and to see more of Meg and Simon.
I give Etched in Bone a B-