Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #3
I absolutely adored Graceling and Fire, the first two books in this series. Cashore has a way of capturing your mind and thrusting you into the wonderful world of fantasy and romance. I was excited to see how it all ended. And if I'd ever see Fire, Katsa and Po again!
It has been 8 years since Katsa killed Bitterblue's evil father, King Leck, and Bitterblue has ruled as Queen of Monsea ever since. Tired of being locked in her tower all day, signing mountains of paperwork with her advisers, Bitterblue slyly escapes from her castle at night to explore the city. These nights Bitterblue often finds herself in the story rooms, listening to tales of King Leck or of his 35 years of rule. It is here that Bitterblue meets Teddy and Saf, a publisher and a graceling who quickly become her friends in the "outside world". But things for Bitterblue get worse before they get better.
Even though Leck has been dead for years his influence can still be felt; murders and cover-ups are becoming normal again in Monsea. Confused about who she can trust, Bitterblue calls upon her old friends (Po, Katsa, Giddon, Raffin, Bann and a strange librarian named Death) to help seek out the truth from the murders and to uncover Leck's secrets left behind. Who can Bitterblue trust in Monsea? Is Saf a friend or a foe? And why does Leck still seem to have power after all these years?
What I LIKED about this book
I loved that everyone came together in this book (well almost everyone). We got to read more about Katsa and Po, the courageous Giddon, and yes, even Fire made an appearance at the end (I hope I'm not giving away too much here). Once again Cashore was able to, at the beginning, entice YA readers into a twisting and at some times interesting fantasy plot.
What I DISLIKED about this book
Most of it. I had such high hopes for Bitterblue, and perhaps that was part of the problem. But Bitterblue was so LONG! I never really got into it. And half way through I was wishing I was finished, which never happened with the first two! There were things Cashore could have cut; the intricate details of the ciphers for example.
I did not like the romance between Saf and Bitterblue. Even though this was a long book I felt like their relationship was rushed and insincere. Cashore made the romances between Fire and Brigan, Po and Katsa feel effortless. I realize Cashore's M.O. is building love interests where each person is not totally consumed by the other, i.e., they have their own interests and can stand to be away from each other for a length of time. But Cashore, couldn't we end a trilogy with someone finally able to give up their life for the sake of the other? And maybe not even totally give their life but alter it? I must confess that while I liked Saf, I really wanted Bitterblue and Giddon to fall in love. I realize there probably is at least an 8 year age difference but come on, it could work! Bitterblue finally threw me a bone for this in the last few pages saying she was almost brought to tears when she thought about Giddon leaving. So Cashore left us to hope, or wonder? And hardly even that!
Overall I'm going to give Bitterblue 3 out of 5 stars. I really wanted to love it. But it fell short for me on so many levels. The plot and twists did not pull me into the story and half the time I was more interested in characters from the previous books. I'm not sure if I would recommend this to you if you read the previous 2 books. It left me with more unanswered questions and what if's?