Monday, May 23, 2016

Bitterblue Review

Book: Bitterblue
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #3 (final)
Genre: YA fantasy
Publisher: Dial Books
Pages: 563
Release: May 1st, 2012

Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace.

But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck's death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck's reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea's past has become shrouded in mystery, and it's only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle - curious, disguised and alone - to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past.

Whatever that past holds.

Two thieves, who have sworn only to 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, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart . . .

It's been eight year since the events of Graceling; eight years since Katsa killed the horrible King Leck, freeing his daughter from his terror and making her Queen of Monsea. Now eighteen, Queen Bitterblue is doing her best to reverse the damage her father has done. Except for her group of advisors who are constantly giving her endless amounts of paperwork to see to, all in her kingdom seems well. Until Bitterblue sneaks out of her castle to roam in the streets, and realizes that though Leck's reign of terror may be over, his influence is still not. Bitterblue must now seek out the truth behind Leck's actions, in order to properly understand just why her kingdom is only pretending to heal when it's not...

Bitterblue has been struggling to pick up the pieces of the mess of a kingdom her father has left her ever since she became queen at the age of ten. She's heavily scarred by memories of her father, for what he did to her mother and what he has done to numerous others. When Bitterblue takes the incentive to venture out beyond her castle alone to see her kingdom, her reaction to the horrible circumstances were swift. I really liked how she was able to take what she learned during her nightly excursions and somehow question her advisors about it, without giving away the fact she's been sneaking out at night. Even as s a queen in disguise, she was able to make the proper changes needed to help her kingdom.

Saf character introduced new aspects of what being a Graceling can mean. Well past his childhood years, Saf did not know his own Grace, something that was seen as unbelievable to numerous people. But in honestly, Saf truly didn't know his Grace--nor did he obsess over it. His personality and history were developed without influence from his Grace, making him as normal as any non-Graceling. It also made the novel fun, as I kept making predictions about what his Grace could possibly be. Though I found his reaction to Bitterblue's identity as the queen a little hurtful, it was very realistic coming from his shoes, and the way he was able to come to terms with it and accept her was done beautifully.

My main fascination of this novel was of the castle, in particular the architecture, decorations, hidden passageways and secrets. I enjoyed how lush these descriptions were, and how they ultimately fit into the plot and overall mystery of Leck's history. I mean, a maze in a castle? Yes please! It seemed like such an exotic, yet extremely fascinating place to live in. The numerous secret passages Bitterblue kept discovering really made the castle even more awe-inspiring, since they could be at the most unsuspecting places. I also loved how the author went into ciphering--I've definitely learned some neat ways to write coded letters now, and I'm itching to try them out!

Though I did enjoy the plot, I couldn't help but feel like it was lacking a bit in action and a general antagonist. I wanted a clear force of evil working against Bitterblue, where she would have to step off her throne to band together with friends to take down the enemy. I would have enjoyed it more if she were more front and centre in the action near the latter half of the novel, rather than the one working behind the scenes. 

Katsa and Po's cameos were definitely the highlights of his novel for me. I absolutely loved how involved in the plot they were, and it was great to see their relationships with everyone else. Bitterblue held a particular fondness for Katsa and Po, and of course she would, after everything they did for her in Graceling. It was also great to see some familiar faces, including Giddon, Raffin, and Bann. And, much to my surprise, we also got to see Fire, even though roughly thirty years have passed since we last saw her in Fire. We even got updates on Hanna, who is now the commander of King Nash's army, taking after her father, Brigan. I just loved all these reappearances!

As we learn, Katsa and Po have been busy at work with the Council. The seven kingdoms are no longer in complete peace, uprisings happening with the planned assistance of the Council. It felt a little off that this issue wasn't completely resolved, with no finite ending of what will happen, or the fate of the seven kingdoms. Similarly, there was no word of what would transpire between Monsea and the Dells, now that they have made contact, and how their relationship would shape. I also was a bit saddened to see that there was no clear indication whether or not Bitterblue and Saf would reunite, or whether there was any hope for them in the future. The ending of this book seemed a bit too opened-ended for me, but it still ended on a very positive and hopeful note for everyone!

Overall, I enjoyed this book more that Fire, but not as much as Graceling. I really do love this world, and it's going to be hard to say goodbye to everyone! I can only hope they're all doing well, each with their respective happy endings...


  1. I’m almost done with the book, and I agree, I do like it better than Fire, but Graceling was the best for me. I do like how it all wraps up, and how this book flows differently from the others in my opinion :)

    1. No worries! What I really like about this series is how unique each book was--the pacing, the characters, the plot line! It's like a mix of everything :)

  2. Sounds like it's not too bad. Nice review!

    1. Thank you! I definitely recommend you read the first one :)