So “Bitterblue” (can I just say how much I adore that name?) continues on ten years or so from where “Graceling” left off. You don’t need to have read either “Graceling” or “Fire” to understand what’s going on in “Bitterblue,” but I definitely wish I would’ve reread them before starting “Bitterblue,” because it references events and people from the other two books that left me racking my brain a bit to try to remember what (or who) it was talking about.
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.
“Bitterblue” is definitely more political intrigue and less action than the other two books. Which I didn’t mind, because—come on—it’s Kristin Cashore, so she can make anything seem interesting. And as it got deeper and deeper into the story and the betrayal and lies get bigger and involve more people, I personally found it more invigorating than any fight scene. I also liked how in this book we get to see the results of the evil King Leck’s 35-year reign of terror. In “Graceling” and “Fire,” you know he’s evil, but in “Bitterblue” you SEE what he did and witness the terrible effect he still has on people even 10 years later.
One of the things I liked most about this book was how you could trace Queen Bitterblue’s progression and maturation throughout the book. I could see her growing up and coming into her own, and it just made me so . . . proud of her, I guess. I was happy for her that she was slowly but surely finding her way. I also liked that the characters from “Graceling”—Katsa, Po, Giddon, Raffin, Bann, Helda—are back in this book and providing Bitterblue with some much needed friendship and support. And fascinating new characters are introduced too—like Hava, Death, and Teddy—that I grew to like just as much as the ones I already knew.
The romance in this book was a little lacking, though, I thought. I kept telling myself, “The romance isn’t the point. It doesn’t need to play a big role.” But I still found myself wishing that Bitterblue and Saf could have a few more scenes together. I also found myself wishing that Saf wasn’t acting like an immature jerk for half the book, but that’s a whole 'nother story. I’ll just limit my comments on the subject to saying that I honestly kinda wished Bitterblue would’ve had a little somethin’-somethin’ going on with Giddon instead. I LOVE Giddon. I think he’s ridiculously swoony. At least Bitterblue’s feelings for Saf leave Giddon open for me.
And one last thing—this book isn’t standalone like “Graceling” and “Fire” were. At least, I don't think it is. (It better not be!) Despite all 539 pages, it’s story isn’t finished. It doesn’t end on a big cliffhanger or anything, but it still left me anxious to find out what’s going to happen next.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty decent book. I didn’t like it as much as “Graceling,” but I did like it better than “Fire.” As is usual for me, I wish it could’ve been a standalone, but I guess this gives me something to look forward to.
And p.s., kudos to the art department or whoever was in charge of the artwork throughout the book. They did an awesome job.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 (I totally would’ve given it a 4 if Saf hadn’t been a jerk so much of the time)