Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Book 3 in the Graceling series

Review of Graceling (Graceling #1)
Review of Fire (Graceling #2)

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 a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Bitterblue takes place 8 years after Graceling and some 30 years after Fire. It was quite an eye opener to me in the sense that I somehow completely missed the connection between Fire and Graceling (King Leck's origins!) and I think I should reread the entire series at some point to get the full story.

The book has both its good parts and its bad ones.

The good ones include Bitterblue herself, the complexity of the characters, the love story that is far from walk in the park (it's not easy being a Queen) and the overall story and twists to it.

The bad ones include being utterly confused and even frustrated a lot of the time as everybody is dealing with their past and Leck's lies that still linger like festering sores. Sometimes the confusion reaches a point where I read on, but didn't really understand what was going on or why. It's also been some 2 years since I read Graceling and some of the characters from it are present in this one as well and it took me quite a while to remember who they were and what happened to them in the previous book.

Dealing with madness and general illness of the mind leading to murder, horrific crimes and even suicides, it's a dark book, where Queen Bitterblue is one of the single candles trying to shed light on her city/kingdom with a pained past. I do think Cashore drops the red thread once in a while, but she picks it up and I found the book hard to put down some times even despite the confusion.

576 pages / published in 2012
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2012


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