‘Lake Silence’ – the world of The Others #1 by Anne Bishop

Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shape-shifters, and even deadlier paranormal beings. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget….

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns such as Vicki’s don’t have any distance from the Others, the dominant predators who rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what is out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Croweguard–one of the shape-shifting Others–discovers a murdered man, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, ancient forces are roused by the disturbance in their domain. They have rules that must not be broken–and all the destructive powers of nature at their command.

‘Lake Silence’ was a wonderful surprise. I loved ‘The Others’ series. ‘Written In Red remains one of my favourite Urban Fantasy books: it was original, exciting, packed with emotion and opened up a whole new world where humans can’t quite accept that they are not at the top of the food chain. I read the fifth book, ‘Etched In Bone’ recently and I thought it did a good job of rounding out Meg’s story. I wasn’t sure how Anne Bishop would move forward once she left Meg and The Courtyard behind. It turned out that she managed to keep a lot of the themes and the emotions of ‘The Others’ series while getting to introduce a whole new set of characters.

The title and the cover of ‘Lake Silence’ had given me the impression that this might be a gloomy book, so I was surprised and pleased to find that parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny. I loved Vicki Divine, the main female human character in the book. She was so well realised and easy to relate to. She’s a woman who has freed herself from an abusive marriage where her husband used words like fists to beat her down and keep her wounded. Following her divorce, Vicki has made a new start for herself by renovating a lodge in the Wild Country on land owned by The Others. With the right people (and the right Others) around her, she’s started to create something positive. Then her husband and his cronies arrive, determined to take it all away.

‘Lake Silence’ really surfaced the rage at misogynistic, narcissistic, hate-driven, entitled, venal men who use bullying, lies and violence to feed their insatiable hunger for power and money that is at the heart of Anne Bishop’s books. ‘Lake Silence’ shows a deep understanding of the effects of long-term abuse and the mindset of abusers. Vicki Divine’s panic attacks and her vulnerability felt real to me. The mechanics of the abuse felt so familiar that they felt almost inevitable. Vicki was prey. Her husband was the predator.

But this is the world of The Others, where all humans are prey unless The Others see a reason to classify them as ‘not meat’. The world of The Others is a wish fulfilment environment, where the reader knows the bad guys are going to get their comeuppance but you don’t know how or how much damage they’ll do before they’re stopped.

I admired how Anne Bishop not only revealed the mechanics of patriarch/old boy’s club – getting away with things, reneging on deals, bullying – every deal a contest with only one winner – but how she managed to show this behaviour as fundamentally pathological. These men are doomed not because they are bad (although that’s why we readers cheer when their doom catches up with them) but because they lack the imagination to understand that they are not the biggest predators around. More than that, how they behave is so much a part of their identity that they hide their failures from themselves, refusing to accept and adapt to the reality that the world is not theirs to rule.

The Others in this story were familiar enough for me to understand them and new enough for me to fall in love with some of them again, without ever losing sight of how dangerous they are.

One of the things that ‘Lake Silence’ made me think about was our unwillingness/inability to see the world as it is when seeing it that way means acknowledging that we are never truly safe. Even the ordinary people in the town, those not blighted by an exaggerated sense of their own importance, managed to convince themselves that they were not sharing space with shapeshifters who looked human but who, in the right circumstances, might see humans as a mid-morning snack. It made me think about how this translates into ordinary life, especially in cities, where anonymous violence is always a possibility if you’re of the wrong gender, race, age or class or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Do we let ourselves understand the risks to ourselves and the people we care about or do we remain stubbornly optimistic because the alternative would be not to leave the house?

Mostly, ‘Lake Silence’ was a good story, well told, that delivered tension and laughter and characters I could care about. It was great entertainment. Behind the entertainment, it seemed to me that there was a message, half plea, half prayer for a world that recognises that real strength has no need for dishonesty or mendacity and that the weak can find their place if they have the confidence to offer what they have openly and truthfully.

I recommend the audiobook version of ‘Lake Silence’. Alexandra Harris’ narration is quirky but effective. Her voice brings the world of The Others alive. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

Anne Bishop is an American Fantasy writer, based out of upstate New York.

Between 1998 and 2021 she has published twenty-six novels in five series ‘The Black Jewels‘ (eleven books), ‘Tir Alainn’ (three books) ‘Ephemera’ (four books), ‘The Others‘ (five books) and ‘The World Of The Others‘ (three books).

She won the RT Book Reviews 2013 Career Achievement Award in Fantasy, the 2017 Career Achievement Award in Urban Fantasy, the RT Book Reviews Pioneer Award and, for the first three Black Jewels books, the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award.

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