Series: Graceling Realm #3
Published by Dial on May 1, 2012
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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. And one of them, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart . . .
*Spoilers for Graceling*
If you’ve never picked up Graceling, you should push it to the top of your to-read list. I am a huge fan of this series. Now, I didn’t love Bitterblue quite as much as I loved Graceling, but it is still an awesome YA Epic Fantasy read.
King Leck, Mr. Psychotic himself, left behind a mess of a kingdom for his daughter, Bitterblue. He was controlling pretty much everybody with his mind-control grace, and he was making them do pretty terrible things. And by pretty terrible I mean horrific. Nightmare-worthy. Awful. So it’s not wonder that Bitterblue has a hard time picking up the pieces when everyone is running around having panic attacks and drinking themselves into oblivion. Now that she’s queen, Bitterblue feels responsible for fixing everything and everyone her father hurt. But her closest advisors, who had also been Leck’s advisors are making things extremely difficult. Bitterblue is determined to sort through the mess, especially to gain back memories that she and her father suppressed.
This book is not quite as eventful or romantic as Graceling and Fire were, which is probably why I didn’t like it quite as much. Bitterblue spends most of her time doing paperwork, trying to decipher notes written by her parents, and keeping an eye on her fragile minded advisors. When she’s not doing official work however, she’s sneaking out in the middle of the night, going to what are known as story rooms, to hear history and spend time with the thief Sapphire and his friend Teddy. They of course don’t know that she’s the queen, and she wants to keep it that way. These were probably my favorite chapters, when she was fighting with Saf, or talking to Teddy about his book of words (aka a dictionary).
I was so glad Po was so important in Bitterblue. If I didn’t already love him from Graceling, this book solidified it. He’s hilarious, protective, adorable, cunning, loyal…and so madly in love with Katsa. Whenever she would show it up, it was like “Oh, Po and Katsa are making out again”. It was pretty hilarious. It made me want to read Graceling all over again.
Saf and Bitterblue’s relationship was very entertaining, though, again, not as entertaining as Po and Katsa. They have very sarcastic repartee that is pretty fun, and there’s plenty of angst to go around. I thought their relationship was very believable and progressed pretty naturally. There just wasn’t quite enough of Saf in the book for me.
The writing in this series is excellent; the characters are vivid and interesting, and the plot is always full of intrigue, romance, action…it’s a fantastic series for YA Fantasy lovers.