Summary: 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 Crowe–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.
Thoughts: It’s no surprise that I really enjoy Anne Bishop’s novels. I mean, for crying out loud, I was over the freaking moon when I got lucky enough to interview her last year! (Highlight of my blogging career!) And while the Others books do have some problematic implications at times, I still enjoy the absolute heck out of them, and the series is basically a comfort re-read at this point. So even when Lake Silence first released, I was primed to enjoy it.
But I didn’t expect to relate to the protagonist quite as much as I did.
So, the story centres around Vicki DeVine, which is a pretty cheesy name from the mind of an author who is somewhat known for cheesy names. Still. Vicki is recently divorced, and part of her divorce settlement from her abusive ex-husband is what he thought to be completely worthless property that had been in his family for a while. He passed that off to Vicki to avoid having to give her anything he thought of as valuable. The property comes with a pretty restrictive contract, however, which Vicki takes very seriously, and she works to start restoring the property as best she can.
Turns out that the reason for the strict contract is because the area is meant as a sort of testing ground for the local terra indigene, the shapeshifters and vampires who rule the vast majority of the world. In this safe space that’s right on the edge of the dangerous wild country, they can interact with humans and adjust to their presence, and the two groups can learn to cooperate as best they can. So when Vicki’s ex wants the land back to turn it into a luxury resort, naturally things get… tense.
And full of death. The Others don’t tolerate their rules being broken.
None of that description explained why I related to Vicki quite so hard, I admit, but the way her character develops through the story… First off, Vicki is literally how I used to spell my legal name for a while, and honestly, it still throws me off a little when I find characters that share my name. It’s like seeing a piece of myself on the page, even if that character is nothing like me. But Vicki is an awful lot like me. She’s prone to panic attacks after years of abuse, and while my abuse didn’t come from an ex-spouse, I still know what it’s like to have my anxiety triggered by any man who appears even a little bit threatening. Vicki is also a bit on the large side, and I can relate to that as well, along with having that be a bit of a sore spot after a lifetime of people making fun of my weight and treating me like I’m worth less because I weigh more.
Also she has a bit of a soft spot for one of the local vampires. So, uh, yes, very relatable!
Vicki’s journey to self-reliance is one that I honestly loved, and reinforced that yeah, I could probably get along with the terra indigene if I existed in that world. By simply being willing to try and follow through on the responsibilities she was handed when her ex-husband fobbed off that property on her, she marks herself as someone who’s willing to worth with the Others rather than taking the typical arrogant human approach of being antagonistic toward them. Seriously, in these books, the biggest cause of friction is humans deciding they shouldn’t have to play by the rules. And not because humans are so downtrodden and abused (though admittedly, risking death as a consequence for transgressions isn’t exactly a fun prospect), but there are a number of antagonists in the Others books who think that humans should be dominant and so attempt to commit genocide against the terra indigene. They’re not seeking coexistence, they’re not trying to be reasonable, they just want power.
And frankly, there’s enough of that in the real world, so it’s not hard to see where Bishop got her inspiration. There are a lot of people out there who are terrified of not being on top, and so take action to ensure that those their consider a threat to that power are subjugated.
So the fact that Vicki is willing to do what she can to cooperate with the terra indigene does actually set her apart, as even those who aren’t necessarily antagonistic still prefer to keep away from anything to do with the Others. Willingness to work together means a lot, and that’s how Vicki ends up with a strong support system to help her deal with the problems in her life. Whether those problems involve not being able to lift heavy things on the property, or whether they involve standing up to the people who seek to abuse her, she has people who are in her corner. I love that. I love reading about somebody I relate to ending up with wonderful companions and the ability to move forward in their life. Gives me hope for myself, you know?
If you’re a fan of the main 5 books of the Others series, then chances are high you’ll enjoy Lake Silence too. It’s a spin-off from the main series in that it doesn’t involve Meg or Simon, and in that it shows us a glimpse into other aspects of this urban fantasy world, other people who also have stories worth telling. Even if you don’t have the same personal connection to Vicki that I do, I still think there’s plenty to appreciate in her story, and the unlikely support structure a person can end up with if they’re willing to rise to a challenge and do the right thing.
(You’d think that doing the right thing would be the easy choice when doing the wrong thing might get you eaten, but, well…)