Just, oof. My poor, unsuspecting heart.
I say unsuspecting because I wasn’t particularly enamored of the love development. I mean, I was…but sometimes it was just too much, too soon. I love me some sap, but it has to come with proper build-up. Yet I still felt all the things the author wanted me to feel. Frustration, confusion, shock, annoyance, sorrow, heartbreak, disgust….and not in that order.
Jinghua is a character that fits into her story exactly the way she’s meant to, but it doesn’t mean I like it. Bits and pieces I found myself thinking, “YES. That’s better.” But not as often as, “ugh. ”
I definitely ached for something happier after I turned the last page. I had a few tears rollin’ down my cheeks. After my initial reaction of, “I hate this,” the emotions consumed me.
Let me clarify: I didn’t hate the book. I hate the sorrow it made me feel. Books that end this way tend to knock me to the ground for a solid day or two. When I was younger, I used to mope for WEEKS if I read a book that made me sad (Firewing, I’m looking at you). I generally avoid any sort of entertainment that sends me into heartbreak-land.
But a historical romance set in the Mongol Empire? I couldn’t pass it up even though I knew it was going to shred my sensitive soul.
Overall, The Bird and the Blade was stunning. The careful construction of Jinghua’s relationship with her old goat was flawless. The meticulously researched setting and time was a joy to read (although, as the author does openly say, there were some liberties taken with historical accuracy). While I’m feeling slightly tired of first-person narrative right now, Megan Bannen’s ability to plug her reader into her character’s mind was excellent. This novel is a solid 4 stars.