Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm Book 3
Published: May 2012
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 advisers, 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.
I was so excited for this book. I’ve been waiting for it for what seems like forever and now that I’ve finally read it, I feel quite disappointed. I don’t really know what I was expecting but Bitterblue certainly didn’t wow me or carry the greatness of either Graceling or Fire.
And this saddens me because I really liked Graceling and absolutely loved Fire.
So, what’s this one about? Well, its there on the tin, this one is about Bitterblue. Set about 8 years after the events of Graceling in the Kingdom of Monsea, Bitterblue is struggling to adjust to life as Queen of a Kingdom trying to deal with the aftermath of the death of its former ruler, and Bitterblue’s evil father King Leck. Even though she is Queen of an entire Kingdom, Bitterblue feels like she doesn’t have a grip on what goes on in her Kingdom and feels as though her Advisers are keeping secrets from her and hiding real ‘truths’ about the time of Leck from her.
I did find all this interesting. It was good to see how Bitterblue was faring, along with the help of a certain Graceling couple, Katsa and Po and learning about all the other developments and happenings in the seven Kingdoms. And as Bitterblue becomes more curious about her Kingdom she starts to sneek out at night and dress as a baker girl so that she can wander round the city and see for herself what really goes on and what people are talking about. While in the city she makes friends with a really interesting group of people and I loved these sections.
However, after a while it all became a little… repetitive. Unfortunately as Bitterblue begins to discover that things in her city are not as she is being told, more and more questions appear and the story becomes more and more complicated and difficult to follow. For a large portion in the middle of the book, it just really dragged and the excitement went away. I became bored of all the puzzles and clues Bitterblue was trying to solve.
And so, although I did enjoy being back in this beautifully written fantasy world with Gracelings and Kingdoms, sword fights and mysteries, unfortunately the storyline really let it down in a big way… for me.
If you’ve read the first two books I wouldn’t say don’t read this one because it does answer a lot of questions and brings a lot of closure to the story as a whole and I dare say the weak storyline is probably not a problem for everyone but it was for me and for this reason I’ve had to give Bitterblue only 3 stars.