Welcome to book spotlight where instead of giving you another book review, I’m just going to talk about books I’ve read recently that I enjoyed. Prepare yourself for the fangirl gushing.
Is anybody else a little tired with all the “new” books in series from five, ten, fifteen years ago? Several YA series that came out when I was actually a teenager recently published a new installment in the series, whether that was a prequel or sequel or some other “extra” book. I’m not sure if I like this new trend, but when I learned that Kristin Cashore had a new Graceling book, I decided to reread the rest of the series before picking up Winterkeep.
Except after reading the firs three books, I read 100 pages of Winterkeep and decided I wasn’t interested in some of the new elements Cashore had added to the world. (Telepathic foxes? Weird sentient sea creatures? Characters sleeping around with whoever without bothering to think about any consequences? Yeah, I’m good.)
But I thoroughly enjoyed rereading Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue. Rereading books is such an interesting experience to me because if it’s been a while, I usually have these random memories of certain scenes or events that happen, but not always the full picture or the context. So it’s fun to see how those weird images in my head connect to the rest of the book.
I obviously started with Graceling, which I think I remembered the most out of the three. (But even then, I forgot so little.) Katsa is still a freaking badass, and Po will always be my baby. I completely forgot about them rescuing Bitterblue and how Katsa overpowers Leck’s Graceling ability. But the world! The characters! The magic abilities! All of it was so cool and so fun to reexperience. I’m glad I gave it another chance.
I read Fire next, since that’s the second book in the series even if it kind of stands alone from the others. I suppose one could start with Fire, but I wouldn’t read Bitterblue without reading both Graceling and Fire. I remember disliking this one a lot when I read it as a teen. A lot of people say it’s their favorite of the series, and I always wondered why. I think as a teen I had a hard time with the very complicated and twisted family tree in this one. Everybody sleeping with everybody, apparently. As an adult, it didn’t bother me as nearly as much, though it makes me question why these books are considered YA apart from the writing style. Sure, the main characters are sorta teens (usually on the brink of adulthood) but the content sometimes seems a bit on the mature side, especially with the latest installment. But whatever.
This time around, however, Fire is my favorite of the three. There is just something about Fire’s journey that completely enchanted me. She’s strong and fierce like Katsa, but she also feels so much and I felt such a strong connection with her character. I’ve come to love stories that wrestle with the idea of what makes something a monster, and this one does it so well. Also Brigan is another excellent male love interest. I can’t with how great he is. (Though, Po remains my favorite.)
Last, I reread Bitterblue. This one was a bit rough for me. I think, before, I would have considered it my favorite but I can’t remember why. I enjoyed it, but it’s long and takes a long time for anything to happen. There’s a plot somewhere among those pages, but it’s hard to distinguish a solid line of conflict. Instead, a bunch of little things happen that give Bitterblue her character development.
But really, Bitterblue is great because it brings all the characters together and it’s just so wonderful. I love the world Cashore has created and the characters and just so much of it.
Which is why I’m a little sad I didn’t care enough about Winterkeep to finish it. Maybe I’ll wait a bit—a couple months, a couple years?—to pick it up again. Reading two of the books back to back might have been too much for me to care. I was tired after Bitterblue and needed something light and fluffy to read instead.
I’m so glad I still enjoyed these books after all these years. I was a bit worried I’d outgrown them or that they wouldn’t be as captivating as I always remembered them to be. It’s also fun to be surprised by what I enjoy more now than I did as a teen!