I love Kristin Cashore. I have been waiting to read Bitterblue for what feels like AGES, and I’m happy to say that it doesn’t disappoint! I should probably note that it’d be best if you read Graceling and Fire before reading Bitterblue (click to see my reviews). This book is kind of sequel to Graceling, and kind of a companion to Fire.
So, Bitterblue. You may remember her as the frightened little princess that Katsa helps save in Graceling. Well, now she’s 18 and still trying to help her kingdom of Monsea heal and get over the damage that creepy-ass King Leck did. Unfortunately, she’s practically trapped in her castle under mountains of paperwork that her advisors assure her is necessary to help her kingdom, but finally Bitterblue gets sick of it and sneaks out of the castle to see her kingdom for herself. And when she sees how much things still need to change and realizes that something strange is going on, she has a lot of mysteries to solve to finally become the great queen she was meant to be.
Because there’s not quite as much action in this book as the others, it’s a different feel. But even though it’s not action-packed, it’s still so, so good and a really quick read. I read it in only two days. What it lacks in action, it makes up for with mysteries, plots, and startling revelations.
Bitterblue is a completely different character than Katsa or Fire, from the previous books. Since she grew up as royalty and kind of sheltered, she’s innocent, naive, and kind of a softee. But don’t mistake her compassion and good intentions for weakness – she also has a lot of strength and intelligence to back her up.
Since Bitterblue does not have a Grace, I thought that this book was going to be boring, but it wasn’t. Bitterblue is still an interesting character, and a mix of lovable old characters and great new characters help keep things lively. Po and Katsa come back, as well as a couple other characters from the previous books. My favorite new characters were probably Death (pronounced “deeth”), and Teddy. Death is the castle librarian, Graced with the ability to read super fast and remember every word. How awesome is that??? And Teddy is just a happy, likable guy. I hope they make an appearance in later books.
A couple other things… I’m gonna switch to bullet points to try to not ramble on forever:
- This hardcover is beautiful and well worth the $20. There’s really pretty designs in the inside covers, as well as really awesome maps and pictures in the back, plus a little artwork spread throughout the book.
- YAY for Cashore’s casual mention and acceptance of same-sex couples in the book, as well as a small pro-birth control scene. I just love that she slips these things in.
- There was a bit of romance in the book, but it wasn’t overdone and I’m really happy with the way it ended up.
- I love that the ending kind of tied Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue all together. It makes me really hope that there will be another sequel involving these characters again in some way.
So, basically I loved this book as much as the others, even though it was different.
Of course I’m already hoping and waiting for another book by Kristin Cashore set in the Seven Kingdoms. April at Good Books and Good Wine recently went to an author signing, in which she learned that next up from Cashore is a novella unrelated to these books, and possibly another fantasy novel set in the same world but that may expand the map… I’m not sure if that means it’ll take place in a different part of the Seven Kingdoms, or if it’s going to go beyond the Seven Kingdoms, but either way I can’t wait.
So, Bitterblue. It was great! READ THIS SERIES! I feel like re-reading them all now.
Sarah Says: 4.5 stars
Visit Kristin Cashore’s website here.
Visit Penguin’s new Graceling Realm website here.