Bitterblue is 3rd in a series of books by Kristin Cashore; I recommend you read Graceling first.
Summary: Bitterblue takes place 8 years after the events in Graceling and feature many of the same characters. Bitterblue herself is now Queen of the kingdom of Monsea, successor to and daughter of King Leck, a violent, psychopathic man who possessed the ability to lie to everyone, and have everyone believe his lies.
The kingdom is struggling to recover after King Leck’s torturous reign, a fact that Bitterblue’s advisers seem intent on hiding from her. Taking it upon herself to truly get to know her kingdom, Bitterblue begins sneaking outside her castle alone after dark to explore the city. While on her escapades she meets two thieves who open her eyes to the truth of what’s happening in her city. But the more she explores, the more she realizes that something is still dreadfully wrong in her kingdom, and the more she begins to question the trustworthiness of the people closest to her.
My Thoughts: Ever since reading Graceling I’ve been a dedicated fan of Kristin Cashore’s–Fire was just as beautiful and made me even more desperate to read more of Cashore’s writing. I’ve been waiting awhile for the release of Bitterblue, and while I definitely enjoyed myself (finished it in about a day), Bitterblue is very different in both mood, pacing, and plot than the previous two novels.
There’s none of the pulse-pounding adventure and adrenaline-spiked fights present in Graceling or Fire–instead, the problems plaguing Bitterblue and the demons she must confront are much more insidious, creeping, and hidden beneath the surface. There’s no definite Bad Guy, but there is something much more realistic and relevant to our own world: the covering-up of misdeeds, corruption in the government, false accusations and convictions, poverty and suffering, and yes, even the tedium of paperwork and bureaucracy.
Bitterblue is much more slow-moving. It is more thought-provoking and maybe even more… internal. It’s a different kind of book. If I enjoyed it any less (which I will admit that I did a bit), I think it was more due to the new characters. They weren’t as real to me. I didn’t fall in love with any of them, even the two quirky thieves, Teddy and Saf, that Bitterblue meets on her secret expeditions. Everyone just seemed… flatter.
Slight spoiler: I did enjoy the kind of relationship Cashore portrayed in Bitterblue–that your first love may not be your forever love, may not be your greatest love, and that some things (like ruling a kingdom, exploring a new land) may even come before love. But that doesn’t make the love any less worthy. In fact, Cashore is just great at depicting relationships that are sort of off-grid and nontraditional in terms of not being in the fairy-tale “meet, fall in love, get married, have kids” vein, but still being able to completely sweep you off your feet. Talent.
I really enjoyed Bitterblue in the end, and I also liked how it ended up tying the first two books together.
Author Website: http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/
How did I get this book? Ebook!