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
It has been only a few months since I read Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Fire, but their individual epicness made the wait for Bitterblue a little more torturous. Set eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now the queen of Monsea and things are amiss in her kingdom. To be expected, of course, considering Leck’s reign of horrors, but Bitterblue decides to take action to get to the bottom of it all.
The mystery in Bitterblue is a complicated one: people around her are behaving strangely, things are disappearing from the castle, there are secret messages to decipher… There is a lot to consider and Bitterblue has a difficult time understanding it all. Her confusion was palpable to the point where I sometimes felt that there was too much going on. I have to admit that there were moments when I had to step back from my reading to regroup all the details.
In comparison to Graceling and Fire, I felt that Bitterblue’s pacing was a lot slower. Kristin Cashore focused heavily on the mystery and politics, leaving little to no action in the book. Which is fine — Bitterblue had a different story to tell, after all — but I did have my fingers crossed that there would be more ass kicking along the way.
As the lead in the book, I really enjoyed Bitterblue. She’s very different from both Katsa and Fire and Kristin Cashore did an excellent job displaying that in terms of her vulnerability and emotions. Still, Bitterblue is independent. and she’s determined, making for another strong female character from Kristin Cashore.
The romantic storylines have never been the focus of the books, but come on, I know I definitely grew attached to Po and Brigan. I was looking forward to finding out who held the key to Bitterblue’s heart, as the summary says, but I must say that I wasn’t too into him. If I’m being completely honest, I thought there was another character that I thought Bitterblue had more chemistry with, ha! That said, I did enjoy the honesty in the resolution between Bitterblue and her love interest.
With this being a sequel to Graceling, I think we all looked forward to a reunion with Katsa and Po. I hope it’s enough to say that I don’t think too many people will be disappointed with what Kristin Cashore offers of them. In addition to that, I loved the way she tied together the three books. I won’t say much more except that Fire is my favorite of the series and yes…I was pleased. Ahhh, I am so vague.
While Bitterblue is not my favorite of the three books, it’s still a welcome installment to the series. It was easy to slide back into the Seven Kingdoms, feel the terror of Leck’s reign, and go on another journey with Kristin Cashore’s richly complex characters. I don’t know if she plans to write any additional books in this series, but I do know that I would eagerly read them.
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