Lizzie's Reviews > Bitterblue

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
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's review
May 27, 14

bookshelves: angst, read-in-2012, ya, fantasy
Read in June, 2012

I was stuck at home all day with a sinus infection, and I did not even mind thanks to this book. I dove into it this morning expecting a quick and interesting read and came up gasping for air at 2030, having cried my way through all 500+ pages. Where to start?

Bitterblue was a fantastic character, consistent and compelling throughout. I liked that her flaws flowed naturally from her fundamental strength of character- she is hard, sometimes even merciless, and she is able to dissociate from her surroundings all too easily. I really loved some of the creepy fugue-like scenes where she is lost in 'fog'- the image of her alone in a tower staring down at a castle with glass ceilings was more than a bit freaky and sad.

I am a hopeless shipper; despite this I was not even mildly disappointed with how the relationships (did not) resolve. I agree with the assessment that Saf is a toolbag and he certainly did not live up to some of my hopes- insufficient numbers of good dreams, and he never fished the crown out of the river. (Why should poor Po the plot moppet have to fish it out when Saf is the supposed treasure hunter?) Not to mention the whole exploiting a woman wracked with grief. However, he also fit well into the narrative- I understood why Bitterblue pursued the connect. Giddon has long term potential but the time was also clearly far from ripe. So, HFN with no one in particular, and I was satisfied.

Death was a great character and served an interesting embodiment of the forensic approach to documenting (rather than glossing over) atrocities; he elucidated without ever decending into the pedantic. Also, I cannot read about a Death without flashing on Peter Wimsey and what do I find but that Cashore reads Dorothy L. Sayers: (Not just any Peter Wimsey, but Murder Must Advertise!)

There was far too much Po and Katsa, but that is a failing I am willing to forgive. The secrets of Fox, Hava, and Madlen were heartrending, but well done. The tie-in with Fire would probably have excited me more if I had read it first (I will do so shortly, despite all the meh reviews.)

As for the dynamics of Leck's tools/coerced accomplices, they were believable. I could see people committing crime after crime to try and make it go away. Bitterblue's sense that many of the lower-level tools of the regime were broken inside and in need of (positive, honorable) direction reminded me of nothing so much as the scene in Cordelia's Honor when Cordelia agrees to take on Bothari as her "dog." It only goes to show that everything I love in a book comes back to Dorothy Sayers and Lois McMaster Bujold. Indeed.

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