Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Dial (May 1, 2012)
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.
It has been years since I have read GRACELING and FIRE but both I remember fondly with being truly treasured reads. Upon learning that I would receive a copy of BITTERBLUE I picked up both previous novels just to reacquaint myself with the beloved characters and world that never really left me. As I re-read favored passages I was prepared, poised and ready for this next installment and awaited for all the literary magic that Kristin Cashore created with this series.
Here I am, post BITTERBLUE and am left a bit sad. What I had been eagerly awaiting for in the past few years has left me confused and unsatisfied. I tried my best to recapture the magic that I felt while reading it's predecessors but could not ever seem to find it. The moments that I savored in this read were all to allusive and quick to dissipate leaving me stuck in a fog of confusion. Now, knowing the outcome of the story I wonder if it was the authors intention to leave the reader as perplexed as it's heroine? Whatever the intent it just did not work for me. I cannot divulge other reasons for being displeased with this read because it would only reveal too much and I think it is something that each reader needs to discover on their own.
What I did enjoy about BITTERBLUE was the return of beloved characters; Katsa and Po because they are my all time favorite couple and I could never, ever get enough of them. But they are not the main focus of this book so I savored each moment that they "graced" the pages of this story. Although this novel is not my favorite of the series I am always left in awe of Kristin's writing talent. She has an amazing ability of creating a world that is well visualized and full of wonder. It is that creation and imagination that I initially adored and was glad to see further explored in this last installment.
I know that fans of this series will not want to miss reading BITTERBLUE but it was a bit too muddled of a mystery for me to completely adore. I enjoy Kristin's ability to create magic with her words and cannot wait to see what else she may have in store for us in the future.