Series: The Others #6
Published by Ace on March 6th 2018
Genres: Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
Our reviews of this author: Marked in Flesh
Format: Finished hardcover
Lake Silence is the first book of a new spin-off series set in world of The Others by Anne Bishop, therefore making a great place to jump on board if you’ve ever played with the idea of checking these novels out. While the story takes place in a different town following a group of new people, it still shares many traits with the original series such as Bishop’s incredible world-building as well as her flair for creating compelling and dynamic character relationships.
This novel opens on the small village of Sproing (is that not just the cutest name ever?) where a rustic little property called the Jumble sits beside the calm shores of Lake Silence. Our protagonist Vicki DeVine is the proprietor, having turned it into a cozy resort after receiving it in a divorce settlement. There’s a catch though; the land it is built on actually belongs to the Others, also known as the terra indigene—powerful, paranormal creatures that have called Earth home long before humans came into the picture. Territory controlled by the Others are often governed by strict rules, but as long you are willing to abide by them, most of the terra indigene are content to live in peace with the humans living on their land.
For Vicki, the Jumble has become her pride and joy, after all the time and effort she has put into upgrading the place. Her first tenant is even one of the Others, a shifter named Aggie Crowe. But then one day, Aggie finds a dead body on the property, so naturally, Vicki calls the police. When the human authorities arrive, however, they only bring more trouble and worries. Suddenly, our protagonist finds herself suspected of murder, despite evidence showing that no human could have committed the crime. Worse of all, someone appears to be after the Jumble, and they’ll do anything to force Vicki off the property even if it means angering the Others and threatening the stability of their domain.
If you are a newcomer, Lake Silence will cover everything you need to know. It really is meant to be a fresh start, with only minimal references to the events that took place in the previous series. Admittedly, for those who are already familiar with the world, most of the introduction of this book will feel routine, covering the history of the Others and explaining the natural order of things. Still, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing of interest for old fans. Sproing is a very different setting compared to Lakeside Courtyard, and there are also plenty of new names to learn, new places to visit. I especially enjoyed meeting Vicki DeVine, a fascinating protagonist despite her struggles with a lot of personal problems and insecurities. After the first few chapters told from her point of view, I already knew I was going to like her more than Meg Corbyn from the original series. Perhaps it was due to the first-person perspective, but I immediately connected with her on a deeper and more emotional level.
That said, I noticed quite a few parallels to the first series too. Sproing may not be Lakeside Courtyard, but it does contain certain similarities and analogs to it such as the quintessential good cop, the charming little bookstore, its own population of elemental ponies, and the list goes on. Even the attitudes and personalities of the villains remind me of the ones I’ve seen before in the previous series. The author appears to have recycled a lot of her ideas, repackaging them to be used here. Even Vicki is a lot like Meg in some ways, in that she is a victim of past abuses so that her fragile nature leads the Others to think she must be protected. On the one hand, I don’t see a problem with a spin-off series retaining a lot of the tone, spirit, and themes of the original, but on the other, part of me had hoped for something a little different and more inspired.
Still, this being the first book, I’m optimistic that the characters and setting will get their chance to develop their own distinctiveness as the series continues to grow and evolve. Already, there appears to be character backstories to explore and more connections to be made. Plot pacing and levels of excitement are also off to a good start, and the way things ended in this installment got me all pumped up and ready for the next one. In sum, Lake Silence is a great book if you enjoyed the previous five novels in the world of The Others, but it also makes a perfect beginning for readers who haven’t read them and are curious to see what the fuss is all about.