Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
OK, so if I was to have given this book a rating halfway through, it would not have been 4 stars as it was a real muddle. As far I could see there was no real plot, beyond the fact that Bitterblue was trying to unravel and uncover the secrets left behind from King Leck's (her father) reign.
Which is fine, I do love a bit of mystery and secret unravelling, but the things Bitterblue was investigating seemed to have no real correlation. Nothing seemed to connect or fit together which made me wonder why Bitterblue was investigating them to begin with. They were just plain random and there seemed to be no real starting point for where Bitterblue could begin her investigations and she ended up just going round in circles. Plus there was the fact that everyone seemed slightly unhinged. Which was a triumph if the author was trying to give the impression of a castle full of people not quite all there and poor Bitterblue stuck in the middle. It worked. but it made for a rather confusing narrative. Paragraphs would jump from one subject to another, conversations too would make little sense, though at times it seemed that the characters knew what they were talking about even if I didn't. It made the whole experience confusing and very hard to follow. But again, if we were supposed to be experiencing events as Bitterblue, then the author got it spot on, because I knew exactly how she felt. I had no frickin' idea what was going on, most of the time.
But then about halfway, there was a breakthrough, a wonderful and deeply satisfying breakthrough. Mysteries began to come together and resolve themselves. Plots that you thought bore no relation to anything, suddenly found themselves making sense, and linked in perfectly with other elements of the plot. The conversations still puzzled me every now an then, lots of instances when Bitterblue would be thinking one thing, but then say something in a completely different vein. There was much head scratching as I tried to figure it out. There was also a strange insult involving whether or not someone's child would be born with ears...yeah, that still makes no sense to me at all.
If the author had intended to confuse the crap out of us, so we could empathise with Bitterblue and the madness left in her fathers wake, to then reveal all in that wonderfully gratifying way, then, my hats of to you Kristen Cashore, you executed it perfectly!!! I shared so my of Bitterblue's confusion, then her pain and sadness when certain truths came to light.
Bitterblue herself was a character of depth and emotion. Of all Kristen's heroines, she is my favourite, with the right mix of characteristics and traits to make her believably human, her wish to believe in the people she surrounded herself with but also the ability to do the right thing, no matter how hard, was incredibly endearing. The poor girl goes through a lot, but never in that self pitying way. She struggles through, and we the reader, along with her. She has guts and gumption by the bucket load, but thus is perfectly offset with a vulnerability and a need for her life to be filled with the people she loves, yet still be able to let them go when she has to. Her drive to do something with her life and to right the wrongs done by her father truly make her a wonderful, delightful and inspiring character to read.
By the end of the book, I was well and truly hooked. When the threads came together they created something quite marvellous. This is, in my opinion, Kristen Cashore's best. I loved Fire, thought Graceling was OK, but Bitterblue was something else all together. I just hope that whatever she gives us next, whether another in this series (yes please XD) or something new, I hope she does it soon!!!
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