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Radiant Shadows


Bitterblue - So this was me, waiting in anticipation for Bitterblue's release:As I started it, I moved in this general direction:Which moved to something resembling this about halfway through:Towards the end, I got a little giddy...:And once I had finished, I was a wreck:Bitterblue promises hurtful secrets, forgotten memories, whispering lies and hidden truths. It lulls you into a state of relative safety, before breaking your heart with it's deceit. It transports you into a world of fantasy and magic, to a land determined to rise to a glorious recovery or to suffer through a devastating fall. It's puzzles are as numerous as they are complex, and though Leck is long gone, his presence lurks behind every corner. I loved every word, on every page and would like nothing more then to spend forever amongst its pages.Cashore is an absolute genius at crafting her stories into complex and layered puzzles. Each chapter brought about as many questions as it answered, adding to the ever-expanding and convoluted tale of Bitterblue, her kingdom and her father's legacy. The way with which Cashore effortlessly laid out the pieces of her puzzle, without revealing her ultimate strategy until the very last moment, kept me eagerly on the edge of my seat as I tried to put together the pieces she had strategically leaked.Bitterblue is a wonderfully frustrating heroine. A truthseeker, she knows the best way to have her questions answered is to put in the work herself - through asking the tough questions, reading everything that might be of importance and making a point to venture into her kingdom to see Leck's destruction for herself. I only wish she had pushed her advisor's as to the state of her kingdom, and what they were doing to resolve its issues. Living in fear of them finding out her secret - that she snuck out at night to mingle with the commoners - had her constantly holding her tongue when she should have spoken up! But her loyalty to her queendom trumped any and all frustration her hesitations might have caused in me. Bound and determined to repair the damage Leck's rule had caused, by whatever means necessary, I admired Bitterblue's tenacity and courage in the face of so many obstacles.I also love how Cashore has created the perfect villain in Leck. Dead eight years, his influence is almost as powerful and deep-rooted as when he was living. It's in the flicker of pain behind someone's eyes at the mention of his name or the moments of catatonia when someone is asked about an experience during his reign. It's in the fear he has instilled in every Monsean heart at the thought of reliving the experience of being mind-raped. It's in the wanting of truth, but the fear of what that truth will bring. His endless pursuit of certain ideals, his psychotic experiments in his "hospital" and his treatment of those who went missing are things that will haunt me, long after Bitterblue has collected dust on my shelf.I absolutely loved seeing characters from both Graceling and Fire (and how well Bitterblue tied the three stories together!), as well as the inclusion of some new characters - namely, Saf. The romance between Bitterblue and Saf was of the slow-burning variety, and definitely ventured into the land of the forbidden. True to Cashore fashion though, the romance was a side-story which burned deep in my heart but never took centre stage in the plot. I loved how feisty Saf was with Bitterblue, and how she was able to be more of a person (rather then a queen) with him. In the end, he broke my heart, but I - like Bitterblue - always knew what his ultimate decision would be.There's so much more I could say - Katsa and Po! - but I fear I'll become spoilery. I waited with bated breath for Bitterblue's release, and I couldn't be more pleased. It was everything I was hoping for, and more. The characters came alive across the pages, Bitterblue's kingdom with it's three bridges danced across my vision every time I closed my eyes and the suspense was deliciously thick and heavy.