Book Review: Bitterblue

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Bitterblue Book Review

Book Review: Bitterblue / Author: Kristen Cashore/ Publisher: Gollancz / Release Date: Out Now

Bitterblue is intended to bookend the Kristin Cashore’s two previous novels, Graceling and Fire, and explores one of the big unasked questions of fantasy novels; what happens after the wicked king is deposed? Bitterblue is set in your standard world of magic and fantasy. In this world, magic powers are in the hands of anyone with differently coloured eyes, and it’s pretty much your standard medieval setting beyond that.

This is very much a young adult fiction book aimed at those interested in teen adventure and romance. The crux of the plot focuses on young Queen Bitterblue, her father an evil king who was defeated and deposed in previous books. Rather than an epic fantasy adventure filled in a world of adventure and excitement, what we have here is a powerful story of a young woman finding her place in the world and healing from an abusive past.

It doesn’t help that the main characters aren’t terribly likeable, either being overly simplistic or more often, plain and unsympathetic. That said, Bitterblue herself does mature as the story continues, though I have to admit that towards the end, I didn’t really care. The main themes felt forced rather tragic, but if I was a lot less jaded, I’d have lapped it up.

This is a book filled with dark secrets, shocking revelations, cyphers, secrecy and many, many lies. It’s also long, slow and filled with a lot of emotional trauma, and could really do with being a bit shorter. Cashore is a skilled writer and the story is compelling, but this novel is simply too long and quite draining; those expecting the energy and froth from previous books should look elsewhere. This is a novel pitched at the sort of young person who likes their music sad and their romances tragic. If you need a dose of fantasy-inspired misery, this is for you.

Bitterblue is intended to bookend the Kristin Cashore’s two previous novels, Graceling and Fire, and explores one of the big unasked questions of fantasy novels; what happens after the wicked king is deposed? Bitterblue is set in your standard world of magic and fantasy. In this world, magic powers are in the hands of anyone with differently coloured eyes, and it’s pretty much your standard medieval setting beyond that.

This is very much a young adult fiction book aimed at those interested in teen adventure and romance. The crux of the plot focuses on young Queen Bitterblue, her father an evil king who was defeated and deposed in previous books. Rather than an epic fantasy adventure filled in a world of adventure and excitement, what we have here is a powerful story of a young woman finding her place in the world and healing from an abusive past.

It doesn’t help that the main characters aren’t terribly likeable, either being overly simplistic or more often, plain and unsympathetic. That said, Bitterblue herself does mature as the story continues, though I have to admit that towards the end, I didn’t really care. The main themes felt forced rather tragic, but if I was a lot less jaded, I’d have lapped it up.

This is a book filled with dark secrets, shocking revelations, cyphers, secrecy and many, many lies. It’s also long, slow and filled with a lot of emotional trauma, and could really do with being a bit shorter. Cashore is a skilled writer and the story is compelling, but this novel is simply too long and quite draining; those expecting the energy and froth from previous books should look elsewhere. This is a novel pitched at the sort of young person who likes their music sad and their romances tragic. If you need a dose of fantasy-inspired misery, this is for you.

5 out of 10


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