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As seen on The ReadventurerIt s with a heavy heart that I m giving Bitterblue only 2 stars This book was one of the most anticipated reads of the year for me and will go down my personal history as one of the most massive disappointments It has to be acknowledged, though, that most of the reviews of Bitterblue so far have been very positive and contained words like genius and masterpiece in them My opinion appears to be out of norm.After recently rereading both Kristin Cashore s earlier b As seen on The ReadventurerIt s with a heavy heart that I m giving Bitterblue only 2 stars This book was one of the most anticipated reads of the year for me and will go down my personal history as one of the most massive disappointments It has to be acknowledged, though, that most of the reviews of Bitterblue so far have been very positive and contained words like genius and masterpiece in them My opinion appears to be out of norm.After recently rereading both Kristin Cashore s earlier books, I feel that with each new one she moves away from the simplicity of her debut Graceling and what I personally like to read and in a direction that I can t follow I enjoyed the action romance magic mixture of Graceling and mostly liked Fire, even though some of it was boring and over complicated I m talking about the ball conspiracy scene , but Bitterblue is a completely different beast, a story that is confusing and indulgently long.I ve always felt after finishing Graceling that Bitterblue s story had to be told She carries such a dreadful legacy a deranged, mind manipulating father, a country damaged by the 35 year long abuse by Leck s twisted magic, Bitterblue s own childhood traumas All of this is in the novel.Bitterblue is 18 now, a rightful queen of Monsea, running her kingdom efficiently enough with the help of her advisers who urge her to forget the horrors of the past and look forward But then she starts noticing that there is something really wrong going on around her People act irrationally, they lie about the smallest things, they make no sense She ventures outside the walls of her castle, to meet regular people and to find out the real state of things in her country Bitterblue comes across evenodd behaviors and crimes She does her best to untangle the web of lies, puzzles and madnessThe truths Bitterblue uncovers are powerful, and they have to be explored But I feel like Cashore arrives at those truths by a route that is too complicated, convoluted and scattered Too many side plots, too much talk of ciphers and codes, too many characters coming and going, too many illogical occurrences that instead of making the storyintricate, end up making it too busy and messy.I am definitely a fan of twisty, complicated plots Bitterblue has that, it strives to be something akin to Megan Whalen Turner s and Melina Marchetta s fantasy novels these three authors appear to draw inspiration from each other s works But whereas I was consumed by Turner s and Marchetta s mysteries, trying to spot what was wrong and who was lying and why and guessing the connections among the characters, reading Bitterblue was mostly a confusing and irritating experience Events and characters in this novel are completely insane They make no sense, they defy logic, they stand out to any person as odd Most of the book I spent repeating Bitterblue s own thoughts What is going on And why is everyone acting so crazyAs a mystery, Bitterblue did not work for me at all Untangling a mystery in which no one even makes an effort to pretend to act normally is too much a challenge for me.There are things I did like in Bitterblue The prologue, containing a scene of Leck mind raping Bitterblue and her mother is, in my opinion, the best piece of Cashore s writing, horrifying and affecting.We also meet quite a few characters from the author s prior novels Many I am sure will be happy to see Po and Katsa again although they seem to be a lotanimated than they were in Graceling.And the last hundred pages, where some secrets are uncovered and things start coming together, are muchpleasurable to read.But even keeping the positives in mind, I can t say I enjoyed reading Bitterblue It was a challenge, it was a struggle.I am waiting forreaders to review the novel to see if there are people out there who share my assessment of it or my reaction to Bitterblue is just a result of a severe case of reader book incompatibility As it stands, Bitterblue was a bitter disappointment.After the brilliance of Graceling and Fire, I was really expecting a lotfrom the third novel.Book 1 we explore the Gracelings Realm people with two different colored eyes have superpowers King Leck used his grace to take over the realm.Book 2 we fall into the land of Monsters people animals with unnaturally bright colored hair have psychic powers In this prequel, a young King Leck attempted to take over this realm but was kicke As it stands, Bitterblue was a bitter disappointment.After the brilliance of Graceling and Fire, I was really expecting a lotfrom the third novel.Book 1 we explore the Gracelings Realm people with two different colored eyes have superpowers King Leck used his grace to take over the realm.Book 2 we fall into the land of Monsters people animals with unnaturally bright colored hair have psychic powers In this prequel, a young King Leck attempted to take over this realm but was kicked out.Book 3we are back in the Graceling realm and followthe politics of King Leck s ex kingdomReallyApparently so.Roughly 8 years after King Leck was assassinated by Katsa, Princess Bitterblue now 18 rules the kingdom But her kingdom is full of lies and deceit how can she tell fact from fiction when she has no idea where to even begin Honestly, not a huge fan of the third one it felt too long and boring to fit in with this trilogy I really wish Cashore would ve went the route of book 2 and had created an entirely different land with different way of magic creatures for this third one but alas, that was not the case There were three main areas that qualified this book as a 2 star I could not stand 1 the memory plot holes, 2 the age issues and 3 the lackluster side characters.1 Memory plot holesMuch of the plot hinged on memory lapses a personal pet peeve and Bitterblue one woman crusade against themBut that s how memory works, Bitterblue said quietly Things disappear without your permission, then come back again without your permissionI understand that this was a side effect of King Leck s grace but it was just so frustrating to read a whole book that consisted of that.2 The Age IssuesThis is in reference to how old Bitterblue is 18 and how old she is treated behaved as 10 to 12.Everyone surrounding Bitterblue is convinced that she cannot handle the truth and do their best to avoid telling her anything remotely ugly They lie about everything and anything, often without any discernable motive But she s 18 in this book and their queen When she demands the truth it should be given Period So much of childish antics and disregard for policy could be explained away if Cashore just bumped down the age.3 The Lackluster Side CharactersMost of the subplot consisted of Bitterblue running around with some book printing peasants Literally Only one of them is graced and he doesn t even know what his grace is.After the wild and wondrous characters from the first two, I just felt so let down by the secondaries They were just too normal for such a fantastic series Audiobook CommentsRead by Xanthe Elbrick and no complaints there YouTube Blog Instagram Twitter Snapchat miranda.reads Happy Reading This book is a narrative about how colonization can fuck you over Starring a biracial and ambiguously queer woman of color, it follows Bitterblue as she tries to bring back the traditions, culture, liberty her dictator father took away from the country of Monsea Along the way, she must come to terms the legacy of a genocidal, terrifying monster as a ruler, one who wiped away every detail of the country and replaced it with his own imagined world But she must also come to terms with the lega This book is a narrative about how colonization can fuck you over Starring a biracial and ambiguously queer woman of color, it follows Bitterblue as she tries to bring back the traditions, culture, liberty her dictator father took away from the country of Monsea Along the way, she must come to terms the legacy of a genocidal, terrifying monster as a ruler, one who wiped away every detail of the country and replaced it with his own imagined world But she must also come to terms with the legacy of that monster being her father Never heard it pitched that way before Me neither But I m serious about this, and I m ready to write a serious fucking literary analysis here Good morning, guysBut that s how memory works, Bitterblue said quietly Things disappear without your permission, then come back again without your permission And sometimes they came back incomplete and warped So, what is Bitterblue about, you ask Well, I don t think it can be fully summed up In one way, it s a mystery Bitterblue spends this book trying to discover what really happened during her father s reign, to both her people AND herself, and what is happening now In one way, it s a character journey Bitterblue s journey of agency and growing up But in another way, it s the journey of a whole world the story of an entire country s journey to free itself from a legacy of colonialism and brutality I ve seen many say they had trouble with this book due to boredom While I found this story incredibly compelling, it should be said that the first half is somewhat slow And yes, there are a multitude of sideplots in Bitterblue, but here s the thing I think the book works because of the pace The slightly slow beginning of the first half is nicely offset by the slow build mystery and character development of the book, and it completely pays off towards the second half And with all these different interlocking plots, the book still feels tied together and coherent Why Primarily because of Bitterblue s character Bitterblue is one of the realest characters I ve ever come across She s not the type of fighter we tend to see in the role of a strong female character, but also not the type of sweet and simpering character we tend to see in weaker female characters Bitterblue is clever, manipulative, and willing to fight for the people she loves, yet is given moments of being reckless, underconfident, and petty This isn t a simple plot device she s sixteen, and the narrative both explores that and lets her be a character beyond it I also adore how her character connects the narrative her inner conflict and outer conflict form a gorgeous map.Hoooooo, boy, so I guess it s time to talk about the narrative now, huh Monsea s dictatorship all but mirrors the legacy of colonial dictatorships It is a world in which a culture of openness, a wealthy economy, and a structure of living tested for years has been completely overturned by a despicable, tyrannical leader, and now the people of the realm must pick up the pieces And it s all thefrightening because of the legacy of Leck as a monster who could cloud the judgement of others, he has left the country s old traditions all but forgotten This is something neither Bitterblue nor much of the country has any way of being aware of, especially as the older generation has died out The country s old culture of casual queerness is something few are still aware of The architecture is forever changed Freedom of the press is nonexistent I ve been sitting in front of a computer screen for around ten minutes because I truly do not know how to begin this review This book is so, so deeply important to me, in so many ways I ve read very few books in my life that made me feel every emotion on the spectrum, and this is perhaps one of the best This book is many things, but above all, it s a story of hope a story of joy in the face of so much pain So let s sum it all up Butterblue features a cast of well written, compelling side characters, a hilarious appendix written by an actual character, a cast that is around 70% queer and 90% characters of color, a fucking glorious slow burn mystery, a fucking glorious character arc for a young woman in a tight space, and a narrative around colonialism that sticks out in my mind to this day I cannot get past how much I adore this book Blog Goodreads Twitter Instagram Youtube Graceling fans, prepare to be conflicted Fire fans, prepare to be disappointed Because Bitterblue goes where Fire has already gone before, and not only does this book not learn from Fire s few flaws, it repeats them and makesthan a fewalong the way too If you re an ardent fan of the first two books, maybe you ll enjoy seeing Po, Katsa, and Fire again, but, besides that, this book s too needlessly complex, too poorly developed, and just too long.So the main theme s the same as Fire Graceling fans, prepare to be conflicted Fire fans, prepare to be disappointed Because Bitterblue goes where Fire has already gone before, and not only does this book not learn from Fire s few flaws, it repeats them and makesthan a fewalong the way too If you re an ardent fan of the first two books, maybe you ll enjoy seeing Po, Katsa, and Fire again, but, besides that, this book s too needlessly complex, too poorly developed, and just too long.So the main theme s the same as Fire s, a girl dealing with the legacy of her dead father a dead father who s ruined her kingdom, but Fire s just done so much better For one, Fire s coherent, there are just too many side plots in Bitterblue, the politics of the seven kingdoms, Bitterblue s advisors, Saf, none of them coming together that well, so much so that it feels like the story s jumping from one plot to the next without any overall purpose or reason not in the sense that it s horribly disjointed, but like everything keeps shifting from under you Part of it s probably because, for most of the book, Po and Katsa show up just because this is the sequel to Graceling, not because they really need to be a part of the plot the same problem with Leck s role in Fire, he just felt out of place with the rest of the book And Saf starts out interesting enough for a new character, but after Bitterblue starts investigating her father s history he just doesn t show up nearly enough for a male lead while his interactions with Bitterblue end up seeming almost at arm s length And his ending, I don t get it, I don t even think it s explained.That s another thing with this book, the main plot revolves around the mystery of Leck s past and reign, and to add to the mystery, some things are overexplained, alot of other things are left unexplained That s not always a problem, I liked for example figuring out why Leck did some of the things he did from his journals, how his time in the Dells explained much of his reign, but other things just didn t make much sense Saf s ending again, a lot of Po and Katsa s storyline, the point of Lady Fire I thought Fire s role would be as a model or something for Bitterblue, that they d go into their shared messed up experiences with their fathers, something deep, but they never do, just superficially compares the histories of their kingdoms Bitterblue does come out of it with a sense of how to heal her kingdom, hope for the future that things could be great like in the Dells, but I didn t really feel it, not emotional, too political with all the talk of pardons and new advisors And Leck s still the villain for the third book in a row , while everyone else s the victim If this book is the last in the series, how disappointing.Now, for all the Graceling and or Fire fans I haven t scared off with this review, or new people who still want to give this series a try you should, first two books are really good , there are a couple of things to look forward to Po and Katsa appear, a lot, and though I don t think they re quite the same as in Graceling, they re here Giddon, Skye, and some others as well Besides Fire s disappointing appearance, look for lots of Fire references too The glass ceilings of the palace, the three bridges over the River Dell, the burial tradition of burning bodies, Leck s sculptures and stories, Katsa killing a rat with a different colored pelt Too bad little things like these happened to be the best part of the book.So, I wouldn t read this book as a standalone like I would Graceling or Fire, it s not that great Not great as a sequel either, but there s stuff to appreciate if you don t mind the overall disappointment view spoiler Full disclosure, I m one of the Fire fans who liked itthan Graceling hide spoiler [ DOWNLOAD PDF ] ☢ Bitterblue ⚖ Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peaceBut the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind altering abilities, lives on Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck s death, believe in a forward thinking plan to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck s reign and to forget every dark event that ever happened Monsea s past has become shrouded in mystery, and it s only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle curious, disguised and alone to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth Her kingdom has been under the thirty five year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the pastWhatever that past holdsTwo thieves, who have sworn only to 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, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart This book It was so wonderful and so sad at the same time The feelsI love this book so much Bitterblue got to meet Fire OMG This is going to be one of my crazy reviews I am all over the place with my feels I love Queen Bitterblue so much And her father was that horrible man from the second book that I wanted a giant to stomp him into the ground He tortured animals, people and woman I can t even people I CAN T EVEN And at one point Bitterblue and her crew find This book It was so wonderful and so sad at the same time The feelsI love this book so much Bitterblue got to meet Fire OMG This is going to be one of my crazy reviews I am all over the place with my feels I love Queen Bitterblue so much And her father was that horrible man from the second book that I wanted a giant to stomp him into the ground He tortured animals, people and woman I can t even people I CAN T EVEN And at one point Bitterblue and her crew find some journals they have to decipher from old King Leck and it was not good, not good, not good Let me list my favorites 1 Bitterblue2 PO 3 Giddon4 Teddy5 Saf6 Helda7 Teddy8 Katsa9 Deathyou know what there are too many, just too many PO is Bitterblue s cousin and he can talk to you in your mind and he can read minds so to speak and he s blind as a bat but no one knows about it You have to read the book to find out about all of that There is so much going on in this book I m not sure I can give it a proper review as I don t write proper reviews in the first place Bitterblue starts sneaking out at night and going to bars to listen to stories and such She hates being stuck in the castle all of the time Well, she runs into Saf and Teddy They are thieves and Teddy is a sweetheart, he gets hurt in the book and all of this stuff And Bitterblue falls in love with Saf and there are all kinds of problems when he finds out she s the Queen I mean you can t keep something like that from a handsome thief right Wait, that ending, I just realized No, I need another book to find out Is there a novella Oh Lord Anyway, there are all kinds of conspiracies going on in the kingdom and people trying to kill Bitterblue and people killing other people and going crazy and committing suicide and it s just cray There are some really messed up and sad reasons for all of that though I mean this book Katsa and PO are together and they both love Bitterblue so much and she them They protect her and Katsa has taught her to fight and that helped since she had to kill a man trying to kidnap her Then they have this council that is going to go around and take out some miserable kings I told you there is soooooo much going on It s not confusing, just to someone like me trying to write a review There is a man named Death that is Bitterblue s librarian He s actually been around for many years and he was there when Leck was King until the King was killed Heh Anyway, I love ole Death, he s funny without meaning to be and I had the perfect picture of what I thought of as him but can t find it But I digress Death s grace was that he could remember every book or anything he ever read and he was in the process of restoring books from his mind HIS MIND PEOPLE Can you even imagine I loved his and Bitterblue s talks together though And then later on they made me cry Thiel and heck I can t think of all their names are assistants to Bitterblue and they were to Leck too so they are not right in the head Once again you have to read the book I loved Madlen, she s a healer and she has a secret There are Hold and Hava, they both have different graces You know, I m done trying to tell you all about the people in the book There are so many and it s just so good and they all play so many parts Let me throw in a few excerpts just because Holt, said Bitterblue through gritted teeth I forbid you, absolutely forbid you, to climb into anywindow frames and look down, wondering what would happen Do you understand me Honestly, said Thiel, going to Holt and grabbing his collar, then pushing Holt to the door in a manner that was almost comical, as Holt was bigger than Thiel, almost twenty years younger, and enormously stronger But Hold just shrugged again, making no protest Pull yourself together, man said Thiel Stop giving the queen frights Then he opened the door and shoved Holt through it Are you all right, Lady Queen said Thiel slamming the door shut, turning back to her I don t understand anyone, Bitterblue said miserably, or anything Thiel, how am I to be queen in a kingdom of crackpots Bitterblue slapped him, as hard as she could When he grabbed her wrists, she kicked him in the shin, then kicked him again, until finally, swearing, he let her go You re a bully, he spat out You re a brat, she said I can t find the stuff I wanted to write about Death not real Death, Death the librarian I didn t write down the page numbers There arethings I want to add to the review anyway later on It s storming here so I m just doing a quick crazy review in case I lose power again To be continued.PS I love this book MY BLOG Melissa Martin s Reading List If you know me at all, then you know I have been DYING to read Bitterblue when I first heard about it I honestly couldn t bear the wait This book was first slated to come out one year ago, in April, 2011 Then it got pushed to September Then The publishers pushed it even farther to 2012 I was seriously this close to exploding But it was okay I m a patient person No really, I am I m no stranger to the agony a reader goes through when they re literally shaking with excitement and anxiou If you know me at all, then you know I have been DYING to read Bitterblue when I first heard about it I honestly couldn t bear the wait This book was first slated to come out one year ago, in April, 2011 Then it got pushed to September Then The publishers pushed it even farther to 2012 I was seriously this close to exploding But it was okay I m a patient person No really, I am I m no stranger to the agony a reader goes through when they re literally shaking with excitement and anxiousness for a book that isn t out yet, and every day just feels like an eternity The only books that have trumped my feelings of agony for needing Bitterblue were the Harry Potter books But the Harry Potter books, and Graceling and Fire, don t even have cliffhangers Each book wraps up rather nicely, with just the promise of a new, fantastic adventure in the future I ve read books that have unbearable cliffhangers and I have to wait a year orto read the next book And that is pure torture You ve all felt that But there are some books that I read, like Graceling and Fire, that have no cliffhangers, but are just so dang good that my thirst foris fueled, and every passing day feedsandfire to it until I m nearly busting with it all So, imagine my pure excitement when May 1 FINALLY was upon me, and I was FINALLY holding my most highly anticipated novel since Harry Potter in my hands I m sure I did a happy dance Accompanied with squealing mind, once I was out of earshot of the bookstore It was a glorious feeling A feeling of pure joy I m sure you ve all felt that with a certain book, and so you know what I was feeling Right then, my world was perfect If I could just read the book, I could die happy Then, I started reading the book And, as happened with Graceling and Fire, Cashore and her witchery ways cast a spell over me, and I became absolutely riveted, my eyes gazing into the book, the words wrapping around me with their magic, and taking me captive Now onto my review, which, as always with books I love so incredibly much, is overlong, because I just can t reign in my love Bitterblue spoke of so many promises to me, whispering to me, beckoning me into Bitterblue s strange world full of secrets and lies and hidden truths This book was one big puzzle, with each chapter or scene giving me a piece to the puzzle I love puzzles, and so when I find a book that has mystery, and lots of questions, and gives me little by little, bits of information, and I wonder what it could mean, and my brain is trying to figure it out, I become excited at the prospect of putting together a puzzle that the author has pieced together, then broken apart, and spread the puzzle pieces sporadically, or strategically throughout the book, so that I can put the puzzle together for myself Cashore doesn t give you all the pieces at once and then puts them together for you She spreads them out to the very end, and leaves it up to the reader to piece together the puzzle in your own time, to find the connections if you re looking closely enough The continual wondering, and questioning, kept me interested and on my toes CharactersBitterblue was a wonderful, incredible heroine She s not a fighter like Katsa and Fire She s quieter, and doesthinking before she acts She can certainly hold her own She was trained by Katsa, of course she can But fighting isn t how she takes care of her problems She s a truthseeker She fights her demons by seeking the truth through reading, and remembering, and putting together her own scattered puzzle I loved the strength she had when remembering her father, and discovering the things he did which threatened to tear her down She didn t let that happen though, and neither did her friends That s one thing I loved Bitterblue s friends who stood by her, and lifted her up I loved her determination to save her kingdom from Leck s influence Even eight years after his death, his presence still lingers in the people s minds and hearts He rooted himself so deeply that for some people, it is impossible to root him out and be free from their inner torment Bitterblue believes that everyone in her kingdom is going mad, or spreading lies, keeping secrets She begins to feel that she can trust no one When bad things start to happen to truthseekers people who are searching for the truth about what happened during Leck s reign, and trying to right the wrongs he committed, including the wrong s done by people under Leck s mind control Bitterblue puts all her effort into finding the answers, finding the perpetrators and understand why they are trying to stop the truthseekers from doing their work.Cashore created the perfect bad guy I really, really detest Leck But that is the point We re supposed to hate Leck And we re supposed to want to know what he did, but at the same time, shudder at and fear the truth That one part, when Bitterblue finally realizes what her father did to gracelings and young girls, I was shocked Disgusted Furious at this terrible man and his maniacal, horrendous mind WorldbuildingCashore built a beautiful, incredible world And though it all takes place in Bitterblue City, the reader see s the city through Bitterblue s eager eyes We see the castle and the city come to life as Bitterblue discovers new things each day, things she was too busy to notice We re shown a world of magic, and enchantment, and wonder, and stories A world of intrigue, and deceit, and lies, and locked doors and keys leading into shocking truths, and bright spots of realization We see how a mentally and physically destroyed city, reigned by a tyrant who could, and did, whatsoever he pleased, is struggling to pull itself out of its stupor, and captivity, trying to bring life and lucidness back into the minds of the people In the beginning, Bitterblue spends so much time in the castle But then she starts to venture out into her city She sneaks out of her castle and starts to roam the streets, and begins to discover secrets about her city that she never would have known about while secluded in her castle Wandering the streets, she finds storyrooms Magical rooms hidden in the city where people tell stories and enchant the listeners Fantastical stories, stories of Leck and Bitterblue and Katsa Tales of their adventures, tales of Leck s hideous nature Love StoryI enjoyed the little romance between Saf and Bitterblue It was slow growing, and was beautiful, but also burdened with lies and secrets Their romance takes a backseat to the plot The focus is not on the romance I love books that do that Where authors don t put so much attention on the love story and then forget the point of the novel, leaving the reader with an angsty romance, and little to no plot I would much rather read a fantastic fantasy story with a stupendous plot, and a little bit of romance, then a novel that has the romance as the center, and tries and usually fails to form a plot around that romance The romance in Bitterblue was done very well It added that perfect touch of romance that delights those readers who love romance in the books they read, but Cashore putemphasis on the actual plot, so those readers who aren t quite romance fans will still enjoy the book I do think, though, that a littleromance would have been nice I would seriously be overjoyed if Cashore wrote another book about Bitterblue and Saf.Cashore did a brilliant job at connecting Graceling and Fire to Bitterblue As you read this novel, you start to see and understand things you didn t in the previous novels You see how Bitterblue has grown since Graceling, and how what has happened in her life helps her as she strives to save her kingdom And Fire even comes to play a part Which I thought was fantastic So, Bitterblue met all of my hopes and expectations and they were high, let me tell you And now that I ve read it, the wait wasn t that bad It could have been worse, I suppose I guess I can forgive Cashore for giving me so much anxiety She certainly made up for it I can truthfully say Kristin Cashore is one of my favorite authors ever, and I will wholeheartedly devour anything she writes Dare I hope there will bein the Graceling Realm Actual rating 4.5 starsEgregious spoilers will be behind a spoiler tag, but there may be a minor spoiler or two that I would not have considered a spoiler until there s a complaint So be warned.First Line outside the Prologue Queen Bitterblue never meant to tell so many people so many lies Cover Story I want to live in a place that requires keys like this Classy.I like how the covers of Graceling, Fire, and now Bitterblue tie in together They re very matchy matchy while retaining a uni Actual rating 4.5 starsEgregious spoilers will be behind a spoiler tag, but there may be a minor spoiler or two that I would not have considered a spoiler until there s a complaint So be warned.First Line outside the Prologue Queen Bitterblue never meant to tell so many people so many lies Cover Story I want to live in a place that requires keys like this Classy.I like how the covers of Graceling, Fire, and now Bitterblue tie in together They re very matchy matchy while retaining a unique look, with a vivid color scheme and a significant item from the story the dagger the bow and arrows the keys I don t care one way or another about the whispy, transparent girl parts though I m not sure why they chose to go with the lips on Fire s cover but it s YA, so I suppose it s required that we have a disembodied head or unfortunately close close up.Five Sentence Summary The last time we saw Bitterblue, she became Queen of Monsea at ten years old with the death of her father, the psychopathic King Leck, who had spent the past 35 years mind raping everyone in the seven kingdoms with his Grace Now 18, Bitterblue is still trying to repair her fragile, unsettled kingdom, despite the fog of uncertainty still clouding her own mind Worse, she s not sure she can trust the people she relies on to help run her kingdom, for they are all damaged irreparably from their time under Leck Though her advisors want to pardon all crimes committed under Leck and never speak of the past, Bitterblue is determined to be a puzzle solver, and a truthseeker , for the only way to heal her kingdom is to first acknowledge its pain But lies can be comforting, and truth can shatter, and as Bitterblue uncovers the past, she must confront those who will do anything to keep it hidden Character ArcadeThere are truly a LOT of characters in this book, an entire kingdom s worth and , and the familiar ones gain evendepth and intensity while the new ones have full, intriguing lives of their own Rather than go into every one, some of which would be spoilers anyway, here s some of my favorites Bitterblue I will have to reread both books, but I do believe that Bitterblue has now supplanted Katsa in my mind though I still think that Graceling is my favorite novel She is prickly and defiant, vulnerable, ashamed, prone to defensive violence and crying, and above all, deeply empathetic Her narrative was funny and emotional and self deprecating, and it might just be me, but it seemed like it had a particular cadence, a properness to the style, that was all her character Plus, she s always armed with daggers how cool is that I could stay in her head forbooks Katsa Po Readers will be happy that the dynamic duo returns in this book, especially those who are interested in seeing how their relationship of no commitment works in practice They are super intense, all of their emotions heightened, and their love story is still one of those epic tales They accept each other for who they are but they do fight and make up constantly Po is in this book quite a bitthan Katsa he becomesof friend and sounding board for Bitterblue, while Katsa is a beloved but still awe inspiring figure for Bitterblue.Giddon It actually took me a while to remember Giddon from Graceling, mostly because he didn t stand out much in that story and here he has a surprisingly strong influence He s gone through a lot of changes, grown quite wise and good natured, and his mentor mentee style friendship with Bitterblue develops organically view spoiler I would not mind a romance developing there, to be honest, though I guess he s a little old for her in some contexts he s 27, she s 18 Still, they have great chemistry hide spoiler Saf Sapphire This Lienid raised but not born sailor turned do gooder thief is Bitterblue s love interest and, like Cashore s other books, he has a push pull relationship with her, with a lot of fun banter, emotional connection, and physical heat She meets him on one of her nightly excursions into her kingdom to see what the people are really like not just what her advisors tell her and he quickly becomes a touchstone for her in her search for her people s true needs.The Advisors Bitterblue s four main advisors Runnemood, Rood, Darby, and Thiel just about broke my heart Especially Thiel Death This is not Death of Terry Pratchett s Discworld fame Pronounced Deeth, Death is the best librarian of all time That is all.Style SubstanceDoes this book need to be 545 pages No.Is it quite slow and tiresome in places Yes.Was I sad when I got to the end and realized there was noYES.This story is all about truth and lies uncovering secrets, and secrets within secrets rediscovering lost memories figuring out who is lying, and why, and who else knows and trying to find a space in between, where those who need to tell the truth can, and those who cannot bear the truth can wait until they are strong enough All these secrets make for an intricate mystery, or series of mysteries, and what I love most about them was how they tie together the personal and the political for each character view spoiler Po s secret about his Grace have ramifications both for his friendships and family, but also for any monarchs who might seek to use it he spends a lot of this book struggling with coming out into the open, refusing to keep lying to the people he loves, and arguing with Katsa whether it s better to be safe and lie or to be honest and free Bitterblue, similarly, lies to Saf and his friend Teddy about her identity for good reasons to learn what they know, in her pursuit of truth but her shame at abusing their trust has repercussions both for her as a queen and for her as a person and as a woman in the full swing of her first real crush hide spoiler Everyone in this story has a secret that they are ashamed of everyone tells lies that they need to be forgiven and everyone has a truth that they fear to tell.A lot of the little mysteries what s up with the stealing of gargoyles Why are the buildings in one section of town in such disrepair Why does Bitterblue hate spiral staircases are just that, and they can be distracting, but the way they build upon each other turns in to something both intricate and monumental It takes time for them all to come together, what with the sheer volume of them, and I did get impatient with it at times, but overall I thought the connections were often subtle instead of slow view spoiler For example, Cashore starts laying the groundwork for Bitterblue s discovery of her mother s secret messages in her embroidery right away on page four of the prologue in fact but it s only until later that you can see how carefully she s set that up hide spoiler It s no Megan Whalen Turner level of plotting, but I think it s very close, and I wouldn t be surprised to see Cashore developskills in that direction She s got the basics down now she just needs to realize that just because, for example, she finds ciphers super interesting and has done a lot of research doesn t mean that we need pages of Bitterblue translating coded messages symbol for symbol Just tell us briefly how Bitterblue figures it out and give us the information we need.This story is also all about blame and responsibility Who is accountable for Leck s crimes now that he is gone He used his mind controlling abilities to make people steal, and murder, and rape, and a host of many other things both large and small, but who was acting of their own free will, capitalizing on the general madness of the kingdom, and who was under Leck s control Who should bear the brunt of recompense to his victims These are all interesting and important questions and the novel does a great job of exploring them, but what I liked most about it was the way Cashore brought in various reactions to self blame many who were closest to Leck committed the most monstrous crimes, but even though they had no free will of their own, how do they begin to forgive themselves And of course, Cashore ties in nicely elements like Bitterblue s taking responsibility for her actions as queen, and Po taking responsibility for his secret keeping, and so on.Finally, this is a story about the past, and as such, the ending is not so much an ending as a beginning This might throw some people who expect a neatly tied up story view spoiler , not one that ends with a lot of the characters essentially starting over with new knowledge, or in essentially the same place but with a new outlook, or right on the verge of some huge thing that will take yearsto realize hide spoiler But it s an ending with a purpose, one that s been building the whole novel it s really a story of the beginning of Bitterblue s true reign in Monsea, and much of it is bittersweet, involving her painful but necessary loss of innocence.Vicarious SmoochiesThis is the section where I discuss romance, and while the romance between Saf and Bitterblue isof a side element than a focus, it s still the one that I think will be divisive among fans I ll go on record as really liking how it turns out As first loves go, it s pretty damn good and realistic view spoiler Both of them are young and strong willed, and neither willing to give up their dreams for the other yet, and why should they be I m tired of YA romances that have two young people fall in love for the first time and have that love become an epic, soul matey, you are my only future thing Sure, sometimes the first person we fall in love with becomes The One, but not usually, and I appreciated how Saf and Bitterblue could grow close, acknowledge that there s something there that could develop into much much , but also acknowledge that the timing isn t right for either of them That doesn t mean he can t ever come back, but it gives them room It s sad, but it s honest hide spoiler Otherwise, there was a lot of gay characters in this book, of which I am of course a fan Raffin and Ban are delightful, as always, but there is also a lesbian couple, and view spoiler Po s brother Skye hide spoiler My other favorite romance is Death and his books and his mangy cat Mood Ring Cloudy Gray with a Hint of SparkleThe overall tone of this book is haunting and melancholy The ending is hopeful, and there are some bright spots, but too many of the characters are living a tragedy to call this a happy book There were dark elements in Graceling and Fire, but neither of them took them as seriously as this book.Random AsidesAuthor s Note Acknowledgements I found it interesting that Cashore mentioned being counseled on Po and disability politics after she used his Grace to compensate for his blindness in Graceling as a magical cure I can t say I would have ever thought of that, but I like how she acknowledges it as a potential problem and discusses what she tried to do about it in Bitterblue Librarian Super PowersDeath is one of the greatest librarian characters I ve read His Grace is to read inhumanely fast and remember every word forever that would be my chosen superpower he grows giddy over research the harder, theimpossible and obscure, the better he s snarky and he has a library cat The role he plays in the story, as one of the few people who remembers what Leck did unsurprisingly, Leck censored and altered Monsea s historical texts to suit his own purposes and can acknowledge it honestly, is integral Plus, I just loved how he and Bitterblue start out disapproving of each other and grow to be such comrades as they realized their goals are the same At one point, she gives him an impossibly hard mental task and he tells her she is the queen every librarian dreams of Lovely.Monsea Drusilla, Leck Angelus a totally unnecessary Buffy the Vampire Slayer analogy You know how back in the day, Angelus tortured innocent nun Drusilla until she went bonkers, and you spent all of your time either feeling sorry for her or being totally creeped out In this analogy, Angelus is Leck, the torturing psychopath, and Drusilla is everybody in Monsea the realm as a whole.Read alikesObvs, Cashore s other books But also, while Bitterblue lacks the preternaturally tight writing of Megan Whalen Turner s and Melina Marchetta s fantasy novels, I think the crossover appeal is strong for the Queen s Thief series and the Lumatere Chronicles Also, Tamora Pierce, particularly her Trickster s Choice series of two books Bitterblue Graceling Realm 3 , Kristin CashoreBitterblue is a young adult fantasy novel written by American author Kristin Cashore It is preceded by Graceling, and Fire.In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises the Grace of killing Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue and her country were saved from the vicious King Leck Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monse Bitterblue Graceling Realm 3 , Kristin CashoreBitterblue is a young adult fantasy novel written by American author Kristin Cashore It is preceded by Graceling, and Fire.In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises the Grace of killing Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue and her country were saved from the vicious King Leck Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind altering abilities, lives on Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck s death, believe in a forward thinking plan to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck s reign and to forget every dark event that ever happened Monsea s past has become shrouded in mystery, and it s only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle curious, disguised and alone to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth Her kingdom has been under the thirty five year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past Whatever that past holds Two thieves, who have sworn only to steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever They hold a key to the truth of Leck s reign 2019 1398 534 9786226312929 21 10 04 1399 Whatever this book is about I want to read it Kristin Cashore has won my trust.