Monday, January 11, 2021

Review: BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore (reread)


Rating: 5/5 stars

I love this book so much. It truly is one of the most well-written and satisfying books I have ever read.

I reread Bitterblue in preparation for Winterkeep coming out next week, which is my most anticipated book of 2021. I remember when I originally read this series that I liked Graceling and I didn’t like Fire, but part of me now wishes I had reread those two books also. I’m especially interested in rereading Fire to see if I might like it more now; I forgot just how many references to that book are in Bitterblue, and it’s actually quite important. In my original review, I said that you could skip both the first books and read Bitterblue as a standalone. While that statement remains true as you would not be confused about the story in any way, you would still be missing out on so much world-building and history and character development found in the first two books, so my new stance is to read the whole trilogy in order without skipping ahead. 

I can’t believe how much I forgot about this story though. I remembered there were a ton of ciphers and a ton of betrayals, and that’s still true, but I forgot most of the plot and the minor characters, including Hava, who I believe becomes a POV character in Winterkeep. I’m so so glad I reread this book to refresh my mind before starting the fourth installment. The ending leaves it open for new birth and regrowth of Bitterblue’s kingdom, and I cannot wait to see how she has developed as a queen and also to see what she has done with her kingdom. The end of Bitterblue talks about what she would like to see done in the future, so it’ll be interesting to see how much she followed through on. I really really hope that Cashore does not let us down in tying threads of the new book back to the stories in the original trilogy.

In my original review, I mentioned that the book is left open-ended about Bitterblue’s romantic future, but upon reread, it almost seems obvious what the outcome could be (we’ll see if I’m right when I read Winterkeep). I obviously wanted it to go a certain way during my initial read, so I was refusing to see the signs that were right in front of me during the last third of the story, my now my opinion has changed. (Leaving it vague to avoid spoilers.) 

I cannot emphasize enough how much I love this book. Bitterblue is one of the best young adult books out there, and it has THE BEST political intrigue I’ve ever read in a fantasy novel ever, adult or young adult. There is just so much in here that I don’t see in other books. Cashore does not pull her punches one bit, and I love it. I love her writing and her character work and her twisty threads that all tie together. I will reread this book every few years until I die; it will always be one of my favorite stories.

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