The major point of fantasy novels is, of course, showing a world that is different from ours, where magic is alive and where people have amazing powers. Despite the fact that I read them to escape my mundane life, I’m often annoyed when fantasy books include people experiencing real-life issues, such as trauma, and then gloss over said issues instead of addressing and dealing with them. Other big offenders are the lack of inclusion of LGBTQ+ people and examination of mental illness. Authors and readers seem to think that you cannot address such topics because you cannot use modern-day vocabulary in a fantasy setting. However, once in a while I find a fantasy series which doesn’t shy away from using its medium to examine issues we deal with in real life. As such, today I want to talk about the Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore, and in particular its final book—Bitterblue.
Spoilers for the Graceling trilogy below. Also, content warnings for abuse, mental illness, PTSD, and rape.
After a busy week like the one I’ve had (and will continue to have until the week’s actually over), there’s really only one thing I want to do: sleep. However, in lieu of that, I wanted to find some fic that wasn’t overly long, since I doubted I would have been able to devote that much time to it, and something to help me wind down. I’m still not quite sure if I achieved the latter, but the nostalgic little piece of writing I ended up finding more than made up for any stress it happened to cause me.
One of my not-at-all-guilty pleasures is Yu Yu Hakusho. It remains, to this day, one of two anime series I’ve actually bought the entirety of, and the only series over fifty episodes that I would have no qualms about sitting down and marathoning at the drop of a hat. As most fans have come to accept, the final season wasn’t exactly stellar; however, it still gave us a satisfying ending where everyone was happy and easing into their new lives. Rosage’sBehind the Mirror, in that same vein, gives readers a glimpse into life after the series. But instead of focusing on the main four, it gives focus to a character who really deserved it: Yukina.
Watchers actually met Yukina in the first season of the show. From there, she became an easily forgettable side-character who was more “Hiei’s sister” or “Kuwabara’s’ crush” than an actual character of her own, only showing up to lament how she didn’t know who or where her brother was or to cheer on the other characters, and not much else. When the crew first meets her, Yukina is a captive of a terrible human, Tarukane, who tortures her as each tear she produces turns into a valuable gem (as is the way of all ice maidens). Not much is said about this after they free her, but that’s where Behind the Mirror really shines—Yukina gets a chance to cope with the trauma in her life and is not forced to deal with it alone.