This contemporary fantasy is the first in a series spun off from The Others, set in an alternate world where shape-shifters, vampires, and Elementals control all the natural resources and see most humans as prey.
Vicki DeVine is trying to renovate The Jumble, a rural retreat in the Finger Lakes that she received in the settlement from her divorce. After her lodger discovers a dead body, Vicki learns the deceased was hired by her slimy ex-husband and a cabal of unscrupulous businessman, who intend to force her to relinquish The Jumble so they can transform it into a ritzy resort. Regrettably for their continued survival, they don’t realize just how much the clawed and toothy locals will object to this plan. This is the latest iteration of Bishop’s favorite plot, employed liberally in far too many of her books. A sentient predator, or group of predators, provides ample evidence of their capacity for mass slaughter. A person or persons want something possessed either by the predators or by a seemingly weak woman protected by the predators. The predators wait for the enemy to do something sufficiently provocative, which they inevitably do after a series of escalating encroachments, and then the predators brutally kill the chief enemy and/or their allies, leaving the few survivors with no ability to retaliate. Bishop gets away with continually re-embroidering the same story because she's a good worldbuilder; plus, her heroes are always so likable and the villains so awful, it’s incredibly satisfying to see the latter get their righteous, messy, and, above all, predictable comeuppance. At the same time, the blindly stupid stubbornness of the enemy, persisting even as bodies pile up, gets tiresome. And the details of this novel's climactic scene are just too similar to that of Bishop's last Others novel, Etched in Bone (2017).
Her fans will enjoy this reheated fare, but it would be nice to see something fresh on offer for Bishop’s next effort.