Thoughts on Cashore’s Bitterblue Preview

Kristin Cashore is one of my favorite authors. She adores The Hunger Games. By transitive property, I am also supposed to enjoy Suzanne Collin’s work, but somehow, I can’t get into it. I’m just not a fan of dystopian novels and as strong and noble as Katniss appears, I consider her emotionally stunted and somehow frustrating to read about. I may revise my opinion when I finish reading the books, but as of this moment, the trilogy is set aside on my bookshelf.

Anyway, back to Kristin Cashore, who wrote Graceling and Fire, two great romantic fantasy young adult novels that feature two very different female leads. I highly recommend Graceling to anyone who enjoys a bit of adventure, survival, intrigue and romance wrapped up in a glorious and enchanting world.

Her third book, Bitterblue, is about one of the characters introduced in Graceling. I’m not sure what reasoning led Ms. Cashore into naming her character with such a strange compound word, but perhaps when the book is released this May, it will reveal itself. For now, the prologue and first chapter preview is available on Amazon and I wanted to express my initial reactions.

The prologue initiates a sense of unease and distress that is pivotal to understanding Bitterblue’s past and moral character. She has suffered so much, and while Graceling never delved into the details of her abuse, the implications were always understood. For a new reader, the juxtoposition of the tension from the prologue to the comical situation in the first chapter might come off as infuriating. It seems almost unfair to build tension without release. Cashore relies on curiosity to push the readers forward. For those already loyal to Bitterblue’s cause, it will be a minor affront, and they will trust Cashore to deliver a riveting story. For the uninitiated, I’m not so sure they will maintain the patience to continue reading because they are not invested in Bitterblue or the historical cast of characters (Katsa, Po, etc.)

I urge readers to continue. Bitterblue is steadfast, persevering, and not one to burden others. She is young and perhaps a bit naive, but she has plenty of room to grow, and for readers like myself who enjoy character growth, I feel that her Bildungsroman has plenty of potential.

I’m hoping for a boxed set of all three books. May 1st can’t come soon enough.


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KT is an avid foodie/gamer/SFF reader with expertise in a variety of bizarre fields. Her love for technology, science, and internet media is only matched by her fondness for music, language and art. Karen is an aspiring writer with a meandering past. Her law and engineering books make wonderful counterweights to her fiction collections. She hopes to one day publish a novel, most likely in the young adult genre, but the future is an open book.

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