Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Source: Received a hardcover at Book Expo America
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.
I love the Graceling realm!! Another fantastic addition to this series. I loved Bitterblue — and the romance in this book was beautiful, even if it doesn’t have a happy ending (yet.) Hoping there’s more to come in this wonderful series! I also loved the connections between the Graceling Realm and the Dells.
One of my favorite things about this book was that unlike Katsa and Fire, Bitterblue does not have a special power. Katsa and Fire are physically strong women, whereas Bitterblue is small. Bitterblue’s strength comes from her mind — her way of not allowing Leck to control her mind was by doing complicated math problems in her head, and this mental way of overcoming a problem symbolizes Bitterblue’s general method of dealing with anything that crosses her path. She is strong, but still vulnerable. Her love for others and determination to do what is right even if it’s hard for her is what makes her a great and respected ruler.
And the LOVE STORY is fantastic! It reminds me of the beginning of Aladdin, when Jasmine sneaks out of her palace as a commoner. When Bitterblue is pretending to be “Sparks,” the reader gets to see a side of her that we might not have otherwise, a side of her that isn’t weighed down by royal obligations and can have fun and have a romantic tryst. This makes her such a three dimensional character. And the royal reveal scene was done so wonderfully! It was heartbreaking to read!
There are also so many great mysteries in this book that are solved through the story. Yes, it’s long, but I found myself needing to know what was going to happen next.
I hope Kristin Cashore continues this series, because I want more of the Graceling Realm!
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