September 24, 2012

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Pages: 563
Series: Graceling Realm
Review Source: Originally received ARC from Razorbill Canada; review based on finished copy purchased

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
The long-awaited companion to New York Times bestsellers
Graceling and Fire

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.

My Thoughts:
I’ve been anticipating this book for years, so it’s hard to say why I waited 4 months to read it. I think a lot of it had to do with that wait, and almost not wanting the trilogy to be over. I was finally in the mood to tackle this last book (it’s a long one!), and while I do have some conflicting thoughts on it, I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

My first reaction to this book was that it is gorgeous. The cover is beautiful, but so is the book itself. The key on the front and the key theme throughout was absolutely wonderful. The end papers are an amazing design, and each section of the book has incredible artwork. I truly love ebooks, but this is one where the actual reading experience was increased by having the tactile experience with a real book.

I loved this book primarily because of the characters. I loved getting to know Bitterblue as an adult, and I loved being reunited with characters from the previous books. Bitterblue is such a lovely character, because she’s grown up in such difficult circumstances and she’s dealing with so much responsibility, yet she’s not a brat. She’s a lovely young woman who wants what is right for her people. She has strength that she doesn’t know of, but she also has real flaws and insecurities, like any of us. I also enjoyed getting to know the people of the Monsean court, reading more about beloved characters like Katsa, Po, Raffin, and Bann, and even seeing different sides of characters from previous books.

While I loved this book for the most part there were two things that stuck out to me. The first is that this is an incredibly long book that probably could have been edited down a bit. There’s such a focus on day to day minutia and repetitive scenes that could have been taken out. The other thing that stuck out to me is that the ending was quite open. I don’t need a detailed Happily Ever After with every tiny problem solved, but I would have liked some more concrete assurances, rather than the actual ending which felt like more of a beginning. It's not that the ending was bad at all, it just made me want more books about these characters in the future, rather than making me content with where things were.

Despite the lengthiness and some repetition I was glad for more time with these beloved characters. While this wasn’t a perfect book for me, it is still a five star read because of the great characters, and because it tied the previous two books together in such an interesting way. I look forward to reading more of Kristin Cashore’s writing in the future.

The Cover:


Find Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

Here are some examples of how gorgeous the book is inside:

The endpapers (purple!):

The title page, continuing that pattern:

There's artwork on the title page of each part:

That's only a little bit of how beautiful the book itself is. You'll have to pick it up to see all the artwork, including the maps and pictures at the back of the book.


  1. I still need to read this one! I think part of me has put it off because of the length and because I was afraid of what you said, the little repetitive scenes. I really do hope I can read it soon. I am really looking forward to meeting Bitterblue, a little bit older. And of course Katsa and Po! :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    1. For me it was one of those ones that was really worth it despite finding things that didn't make it a very favourite.

  2. You sound like me, holding off on reading a book I've been dying for because...well, because. Did you pet the cover each time you walked past the bookshelf?


    1. Haha... I definitely kept looking it and thinking "I really need to read that!!"

  3. "She has strength that she doesn’t know of, but she also has real flaws and insecurities, like any of us."

    Yes, that!

    We loved how real she was. We agree that the book probably could/should have been edited down a bit -- the story really starts with her finding the journals -- but we didn't mind the open ending at all.

    You know what broke our hearts?? Her advisor and his confession. :'(

    1. YES, the advisor... oh man, that whole conspiracy that you figure out is just absolutely heartbreaking for sure. =(

  4. While I really enjoyed reading Bitterblue, I don't think it was my fave in the series. It was interesting to see how the characters have fared years later, but the ending and the romance left much more to be desired. I dunno, the ending still felt too open-ended, and like you said, more like a beginning. I thought Bitterblue grew up to be a wonderful young woman who tries to do the right thing for her people, but I wasn't fond of the guy she met while disguising her identity... I think Kristin Cashore's amazing storytelling made up for this a bit though!

    Liz @ Midnight Bloom Reads

    1. Oh yah, the romance with Bitterblue was just pretty lame, I was kind of disappointed when she took things further with him. I actually see her having chemistry with another character and I could see them getting together in the future.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment; I appreciate each one!


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