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.
The long-awaited sequel to Graceling, is, in my opinion, totally worth the wait. Returning to the world of Katsa, Po, and Bitterblue is like coming home. Kristin Cashore’s newest book definitely lives up to the hype.
Bitterblue is no longer a ten-year-old girl. She is now an eighteen-year-old queen. She is quite clueless about her kingdom and she is not afraid to admit it. She wants to make things better in her kingdom but she wants to do it without burying the past, no matter how painful. She is brave, strong, fierce, loyal, and kind. She also happens to have a strong group of friends working with her which includes Katsa, Po, Raffin, Ban, and Giddon, as well as some new faces. All the familiar people are just as fabulous as expected and the new characters add a bit of mystery to the book. Saf, Teddy, Bren, and Tilda are clearly good people but they are also very clearly hiding something. No matter how many times I thought I had it figured out I was never even close. It was nice to have that little touch of suspense regarding the characters. It was actually kind of surprising how many characters were hiding something. Readers will definitely be kept guessing with this one.
There is not as much world-building in Bitterblue as there was in Graceling or Fire. Because of this it took pretty much no time to get back into the story. However there was quite a bit of history regarding Leck, Bitterblue City, Bitterblue herself, and many of the other characters. It slowed down the pacing of the book a little but it by no means took away from my enjoyment of the book. In fact, that might have been the most fascinating (sometimes creepy) part. Reading about Leck and his tortures is very scary but also a very necessary part of the story.
Kristin Cashore’s writing is some of the best I’ve ever read. She manages to weave important details into the story without making the reader feel like there is too much. Her descriptions are marvelous and you can’t help but feel that you are a part of the story. From the very first sentence you will be hooked.
The romance in Bitterblue is once again very untraditional. There isn’t a ton of it and what there is, is very subtle and sweet. The way the characters feel for each other is very real and easy for the reader to see. Bitterblue’s life is very messed up and I like that the romance wasn’t traditional because it would have been unbelievable for Bitterblue to have this perfect romance. I was satisfied how it all worked out.
Overall, I could rave about Bitterblue for days but I will stop not so you guys can make your own opinions. I highly recommend reading this one. You won’t be disappointed. I really hope the wait isn’t as long for whatever book Kristin Cashore writes next!