What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea, still under the influence of her father Leck, a violent psychopath who altered minds. Her advisers want to pardon evildoers and forget everything, but she sees the past holds fast. Two thieves, who only steal what has been stolen, hold the truth and change her life. One, his Grace skill unidentified, has a key to her heart.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Oh, so many things to say!
I’ll start with the narration because I’m far less conflicted about that. It was superb. Emma Powell doesn’t have/use a super deep voice for her male characters, but she manages to imbue each with enough difference and enough about what makes them that particular character (which is in part due to the writing which provides those details) that almost all are easily differentiated. I found it hard to identify Rood from Runimood (apologies if I have the spelling wrong – I only listened and haven’t seen these names in print). Perhaps Prince Sky was hard to differentiate from Po – but Sky was in the story for such a short time, it wasn’t a problem. Saf has a Lienid accent (which Powell does as Welsh) and is similar to Po but so different a character, it was easy to tell them apart. Katsa has a more brash tone than Bitterblue and the elderly characters have a convincing wobble to their voices. I noticed subtleties when listening that enhanced the experience beyond what it could have been just reading. Tones that were perfect but which I wouldn’t have thought to give certain words or phrases. The subtext was also clearly delivered by the emotions in the narration.
Ahoy! Thar be spoilers! Read on at own risk.