December 13, 2021

Book Review


reviewed by Fiona Cook

Bluebird, by Ciel Pierlot, promises a lesbian gunslinger rebel fighting her way across the backdrop of a galaxy torn apart by war, desperate to save her sister, defy the faction she escaped, and do it all with panache and pizzazz. It didn’t just deliver. It knocked my socks off!

Everything starts when Rig escapes the life forced upon her by the Pyrite faction – one of using her incredible intellect to design weapons of mass death and destruction. Pyrite, along with rivals Ascetic and Ossuary, have waged war between themselves for millenia, conducting battle with no regard for the millions of civilians they’re killing along the way (they couldn’t hold those skirmishes on their own planets, after all). Safe to say Rig’s got a score to settle – and she gets right to it, joining rebels from outside the factions, ferrying refugees from areas about to turn into warzones, stealing back the stolen artifacts of her people – and making a girlfriend out of a gorgeous, brilliant, well-respected librarian while she’s at it.

But nothing precarious lasts forever, and when Pyrite agents track Rig down, she’s forced to join forces with a mysterious and deadly stranger known only as Ginka. Rig’s old faction have her twin sister, and a lot of pointed questions about just where the deadliest weapon designs she’d ever produced vanished to on the night she left. What follows is a high-stakes rescue mission across the galaxy – because all’s fair in love and war, and not everyone’s above fighting dirty.

When I tell you I loved this book, it doesn’t even come close. Rig and her assorted acquaintances are the kind of characters that will live on in my head – they felt real, they were just the right amount of sardonic, and they managed to both surprise and delight me (and cause me endless stress by being selfless heroines who crack wise, but care deeply, and put themselves in danger for others over and over again). There is a deep core of kindness to this book, but while Rig’s determined that pessimism is boring, she’s also an absolute crack shot and not afraid to be quick on the draw when people live down to her expectations. Ginka, meanwhile, is tiny, deadly, and prone to impromptu naps. The plot itself was so satisfyingly twisty, and the locations we were taken to along the way – stunning! Ciel Pierlot has built an entirely original universe, and described it beautifully – think of the landscapes of the Fifth Element, or Bladerunner, teeming with people or stark and isolated, glossy and shimmeringly beautiful or grimy, gritty and downtrodden by turn.

Bluebird has captured my heart entirely, and while it seems to be a standalone, there’s a whole galaxy left for the author to play with, should she choose to return. With her unusual blend of heartwarming, action-filled, high-stakes storytelling, I’ll be back for anything Ciel Pierlot does next.


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