Mon, May 14, 2012

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore Review

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore book cover

By Kristin Cashore

Publication date: May 1, 2012
Dial, 575 pages
Source: Sash & Em, America’s sweethearts!

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.

— 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!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

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Posted by: Anna   •   In: fantasy, kristin cashore, romance


  1. Kelsey @ The Lost Book Reports said:

    I love reading a review that actually really makes me WANT to read the book. I have seen Bitterblue reviews here and there and have not been reading them, because I am a cover whore… but I decided to be a responsible blogger today and well, read other peoples reviews and man, I am glad I did! This series, is on its way to my wish list!


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  2. Melissa @ said:

    I read Graceling, and loved it, but I stopped reading the series because I was worried about the romance angle. My question: For someone like me who LOVES great romantic stories, will the not-happy-romantic ending ruin the whole series for me, or is it worth it despite the ending?


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  3. Claudia said:

    I heard about it a few times but I was not sure to read it. Now from your review I got an exact vision of that book. I’ll go for it. Thanks for such a strong review.


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  4. Lisa @Read.Breathe.Relax. said:

    I need to talk about this book too! I totally agree about the ending and I can’t help but feel a bit cheated! If you want to chat about it, my email is lisa [at] readbreatherelax [dot] com. 🙂


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  5. Katie @ Blook Girl said:

    Great review, Anna! Over the past 2-3 weeks, I have acquired all three books in this series and can’t wait to dive in! Sounds like it is a series that will capture my attention & my heart 🙂


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  6. Ashley said:

    Thanks for this review! I loved Graceling but only “liked” fire so I’m a bit worried about whether or not I’ll enjoy Bitterblue. But I do have a copy of the book so I will be reading it sooner or later 🙂

    However, you are the second person I’ve seen complain about the ending/romance. Unfortunately, a bad romance ending/story will probably annoy me quite a bit.

    Ah well.


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  7. Sandra said:

    I’ll be starting this series with my book club next month and I can’t wait because I’ve heard such good things about it. New follower, your blog is gorgeous!


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  8. We Heart YA said:

    “But what I love most is that they follow strong female characters through important moments of character growth.”

    YES. THAT!

    Not all of us have read BITTERBLUE yet, but the one who did (Sarah) loved it. She agreed with you on many points, and additionally thought the ciphers were particularly well done. (She didn’t mention the romance/ending in particular, so we may have to grill her on that. ;P)

    Thanks for getting us EVEN MORE excited. (As if we weren’t buzzing out of socks already!)


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  9. jen said:

    i skimmed this because i haven’t read FIRE yet and arrrgghhhh it’s been like two years since i read graceling. I LOVE STRONG FEMALES though! so i dont know what i’m doing with the putting this series off. though i’ll be entirely lost if i start it again now. sigh.


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  10. a. knight @ paranormal indulgence said:

    Some people have some complaints about the romance and the ending. Others don’t. This one is a huge change of pace not just in Bitterblue herself but in the “first love” type of romance, or so I’ve heard XD I’m really anxious to get to this one because I just finished Fire recently so I just NEED to GET ON THAT. We’ll see how this goes.


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

  11. Allyse said:

    YES!! Seriously, the ending was frustrating, especially because I know Kristin Cashore can write heart rending romances! Which makes me think that obviously Bitterblue hasn’t met the love of her life yet, or at least hasn’t recognized him. The fourth book will hopefully sooth my discontent heart. By the way, I love your reviews – you always help me add books to my already lengthy “books to read” list. Thank you!


    Posted on: Mon, May 14, 2012

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