Seasparrow (Graceling Realm #5) by Kristin Cashore
Hava is mean and cranky and turns into a statue (literally, its her Grace to hide in plain sight as something inanimate) if you touch her.
She’s also lived her whole life hiding or more recently, as a spy for her sister Queen Bitterblue. They are now on the ship, Monsea, headed back home after an adventure from the last book, along with faithful Giddon, her advisors, and a motley assortment of crew.
Hava can’t hide well on a ship, and so begins the process of undoing who she was so she can become something else. There are storms, and a long section in the middle that wore me down emotionally as they trek through unending snow, but Cashore does this thing with her characters, alot like T. Kingfisher, where as a reader you get to watch grumpy Hava react cluelessly to overtures of friendship anyone else would have recognized and slowly, slowly begin to stop lashing out in anger or turn into a statue.
And then there’s the foxes. There is a scene in the midst of the snowy trek of despair, where Hava gives over a fox to one of Bitterblue’s most useless, whining, spoiled advisors, and it almost brought tears to my eyes because of what it meant about Hava’s growth in compassion towards herself and others.
There’s also a subplot about politics revolving around some notes about a secret weapon Hava has to translate…and Cashore gave us just enough hints for me to guess who the mysterious person named in those notes were, but it still was a beautiful moment for Hava.
And don’t even get me started on the lovely, sweet, and yet hinting-at-darkness Linny. A sailor who becomes important to Hava, I almost feel like Cashore wrote him as if he had a Grace himself because he knew too much and forgave too much, but no, it was just plain decency.
Cashore always writes books about broken people finding each other, and I’m so glad Hava found the sailors. Do not recommend reading this one as a stand alone. You’ll miss out on knowledge of the darkness behind Bitterblue and Hava.