BINGO – Pandemic (I know this category is a catch-all, read-what-you-want category, but this book is also about a pandemic)
SUMMARY – Oh boy, what a book to read during a pandemic. Briar Moss and his teacher Rosethorn head to the city in order to provide healing services to the sick there. Briar, a former street kid, can’t help but give special attention to all the homeless, poor children while there. While attending to the street kids in the Mire, the poorest part of the city, Briar discovers symptoms on a girl that he’s never seen before. Soon, that illness, name the Blue Pox, has ravaged the entire city. It’s up to all of the mages at Winding Circle to find a cure to this epidemic before it’s too late.
This book is the pay off of all the set up in world building from before: the story just feels lived in. It’s the conclusion of everyone’s journey, and it’s so excellent. Every single character that we have been introduced to at Winding Circle Temple is integral to this story. Everyone’s arc coalesces in Briar’s Book in a truly wonderful way. Similarly, the themes that Pierce has been working in to the first three novels all come together. Briar’s Book explores class, power, community, and death.
The magic that is worked at the end of this book is some of the most gripping and harrowing magic I have ever read. It’s dangerous and foolhardy magic worked at the hands of three children to save a loved one, yet Pierce still manages to write about the magic with such beauty and compassion. And I think that this last magical act summarizes what this entire series is about. The world is dangerous and complex place, but with the right people by your side and strong convictions about what is good and just, we can impart a little beauty to everything.