Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
— Goodreads.com description
Okay, let’s get a few pieces of business out of the way first: If you love epic love stories and battles and fantasy and bravery and everything that makes a good story…and you haven’t read these books…then you are insane. Get on it. Right now.
So now that you’re clearly going to read these (Right? Say you will. You MUST!), looking back on the entire series now in its entirety, I definitely recommend reading them in the order they came out: Graceling (my favorite), Fire (a companion novel), then Bitterblue.
Technically, Bitterblue is a sequel to Graceling…but you have to know what happens in Fire to “get” it all.
Okay, on to the review.
Bitterblue represents so many of the things I love about Kristin Cashore’s books. Obviously, as I said before, they’re epic, full of battles and good and evil and all that fun stuff. But what I love most is that they follow strong female characters through important moments of character growth.
Kristin Cashore is unbelievably talented. She masterfully reveals her characters’ vulnerabilities while simultaneously building their strength and testing their physical and emotional limits. Her stories are moving and sweeping and spirited – they really represent my ideal reading experience. If only every book enchanted me so!
My favorite parts? Katsa and Po return! They’re so fiery and joyous…I can’t get enough of these characters. And Bitterblue was a great counterpart to our previous female leads. Where Fire and Katsa were outwardly tough cookies, Bitterblue is more sensitive and intellectual. It was a nice change of pace.
But…I do have some problems with Bitterblue, which was unfortunately my least favorite of the books. I’m not even going to get into it, because I refuse to spoil you. But the ending and the romance…did not make me happy. To put it lightly.
Once you’ve read the book and want to chat about what I’m hinting at above…you know where to find me. I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT MORE!