Before getting into talking about the book, I want to point out that this is one of several books that I either have on deck or have read recently that I discovered through TikTok. My main location for book discovery right now is Twitter and. has been for a while; I follow so many writers and agents on there that anything interesting is inevitably going to cross my radar sooner or later. But #BookTok is becoming a bigger force as time goes on, and I still don’t think I’ve heard about this one on Twitter anywhere, so it’s good that I was paying attention, because Ciel Pierlot’s Bluebird is a hell of a book.
Also, it’s been a running joke around here for years that my book “reviews” are often about anything but the book, and … well, this one isn’t going to be an exception? So let me say the words Lesbian gunslinger fights spies in space and just walk away after that, because I know my people, and that sentence got a certain number of you opening up Amazon already. It was certainly all I needed to order the book, and I got exactly what I wanted, and while I once criticized a book whose tagline was lesbian necromancers in space on the grounds that there was not quite as much lesbian necromancy or space as that sentence implied, this is well and truly a book about a lesbian gunslinger fighting spies in space and it is absolutely everything I want from life right now.
It is also– and here we go with the review being more about me than the book, so brace yourself– about 75% of the way to being a great Benevolence Archives book, with most of that remaining 25% being simple matters of renaming a few characters and slightly altering the villains. Because the main character of this book reminds me so much of my Rhundi that it’s scary, and I kind of want to hand my entire universe over to Ciel Pierlot and let her run wild in it to see what happens. I mean, Rhundi isn’t a lesbian, and Pierlot’s main character Rig’s relationship with her girlfriend June is one of the best parts of the book, but the personality and the attitude and the swagger are all there, and I feel like my writing style and Pierlot’s are similar enough that matching the tone of the BA books wouldn’t be a challenge for her at all.
So obviously I really liked the characters. The worldbuilding here is pretty cool too, with the galaxy divided up among three warring factions more or less separated by religious beliefs about the same original set of facts; blah blah blah God did this, and all three factions are convinced that this was done for their benefit and not that of the other two. I’d love to see more; we get enough into the weeds to tell this story but there aren’t any places where I felt like the book was info dumping just for the hell of it. That said, I think the one place where the book does fall down a bit is related to the worldbuilding: Rig is a Kashrini, an alien race that may as well be an ethnic minority given how the book treats them, and there’s a subplot going throughout the book about how the Kashrini are treated (poorly) by their faction that I felt could be explored a little bit more. Rig in particular makes a habit of reclaiming Kashrini artifacts whenever she finds them in the possession of non-Kashrini– think Killmonger in Black Panther for a close analog– and I would like to have learned a little bit more about her actual people. She spends most of the book trying to rescue her sister, and found family is definitely a theme, but I’d like to have seen a bit more detail on this one story thread.
Bluebird is a standalone, tying everything up with a nice bow at the end, and I don’t know right now what Pierlot is working on next. I’d love to see more done with this world and these characters, but one way or another she’s on The List now, and I’ll be keeping my eyes out for her next book. Check it out.