Thursday, February 23, 2012
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
I am certain I can't tell you why it took me so long to get this done. Aside from the daily busyness of life, I think I just wanted to savor this book. And, the reading of it did just that. Like a long and meandering river, Bitterblue took me on a winding journey that wasn't full of swashbuckling action and wars, but rather a slow and deliberate look at a young queen trying to make sense of her past and, thus, her present.
This novel is actually referred to as the sequel to Graceling and Fire as the companion novel. It starts six years after Graceling ends, when Bitterblue (Leck and Ashen's daughter, who Katsa rescued in the first novel) is now 18 and ruling the kingdom of Monsea. She is still surrounded by advisors who "tended" to Leck and is trying to make sense of why her kingdom is so illiterate. Her innocent attempt at an answer leads her into an entire novel's worth of intrigue, culminating in a wonderful climax of trust and betrayal.
As always, Cashore creates a beautifully drawn, strong female character who learns about herself and the cruel hard truth of the world around her. The change, however, in Bitterblue as compared to Katsa is almost incomparable, for Bitterblue starts with much more innocence than Katsa ever did. Therefore, with each discovery of truth about her evil father and her kingdom, Bitterblue transforms even more into the gracious and powerful queen we know she can become. Without spoiling anything, the way Cashore has woven the characters from her past novels into this one is uplifting beyond belief.
And, now, I will throw this ARC to the wolves. That means...as soon as students saw me reading this ARC, they started their own instantaneous list of who would receive it next based on how much they loved Graceling. I shall "grace" my shelves with many copies of this hardcover. No pun intended.