Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Title: Bitterblue
Series: The Graceling Realm Series
Book #: Three
Author: Kristin Cashore
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Source: Local Library 
Format: Hard Cover

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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. (taken from 
Kristin Cashore has yet to disappoint me. While none of her books have been able to surpass Graceling in my mind, both Fire and Bitterblue enchanted me with their epic world-building and lovable characters. I can't explain how ecstatic I was when I discovered that characters like Katsa, Po, and Giddon return to stand by Bitterblue in this third novel. Cashore is quite adept at forming bonds between her characters and drawing the reader into the close group of friends. I hadn't realized how much I missed her writing!

The young Queen Bitterblue impressed me almost as much as Katsa did. Despite her naivete and age, she possesses a determination that drew me to her immediately. Her leadership and people skills blossom throughout the novel, and by the end, I was proud of her character growth. How is Cashore able to dream up so many amazing heroines?

It would probably be beneficial to read Graceling and possibly Fire right before starting Bitterblue, because the story picks up right where the first book left off. Since I read Graceling almost five years ago, I struggled to remember some of the finer details. Eventually I was able to figure things out. The plot is very complex, meaning this isn't an easy read. Prepare yourself for a story of intrigue, deception, and politics. Cashore even tones down the romance to make more room for Leck's legacy in Monsea.

The ONLY reason I didn't give Bitterblue a higher rating is that the book dragged a little bit. At 563 pages in length, this is no quick read. At times, Bitterblue's unanswered questions become a little repetitive. It felt like the story was barely moving. Thankfully, things eventually picked up again. This is a tiny criticism, and I would still recommend the book to any fans of the series.

As I said before, there is less romance in this book than the other three. However, the little bit of romance that does exist is captivating. Saf and Bitterblue have wonderful chemistry, and there are definitely some swoon-worthy moments. Po and Katsa's romance also gets a little bit of stage time, which made me beyond happy.

Overall, Bitterblue met all of my expectations. Cashore has created yet another brilliant fantasy. Based on the success of this series, I'm willing to devour anything Cashore writes. She obviously has a gift for story-telling. To be honest, I'm a bit sad I've finished the series. I'm going to miss all of the characters! If I find out the series isn't over, I'll be thrilled.

Rating: 4 Stars