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Book Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

I feel like I’ve been waiting for Bitterblue to come out for a million years (<--accurate number). After Gracling hooked me, I will definitely be reading EVERYTHING by Kristin Cashore. Like, ever.

Book Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

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Title & Author: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Genre: Young Adult Fiction – Fantasy

Release Date: May 1, 2012

Series: 3rd book in series

Publisher: Dial

How I Got the Book: ARC via Penguin


“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.”

Gracelings & Awesomeness Return

I love the whole premise of Bitterblue- it picks up 8 years after Graceling. Bitterblue is queen and she’s trying to hold her kingdom together. People are acting strangely, and she’s trying to undo the horrific reign of terror Leck had over the kingdom of Monsea.

The story is extremely well done. It answers all of the questions raised in its pages AND in other books. Plus, it has so much depth. Bitterblue is more than a story about falling in love for the first time or about becoming queen of a broken country – it’s about healing and redemption and consequences.

There were definitely some revelations made in the novel that were tough to read, but I really like that Cashore takes us there. It’s gritty and harsh but it makes sense with where things left off in Graceling. I can always appreciate continuity.

Katsa, Po and other unexpected characters from past books make an appearance in Bitterblue. Actually, Katsa and Po are more than just secondary characters, and I loved getting a closer look at how they developed since Graceling.

Healing and Conclusions

I LOVED Bitterblue as a character – she’s a perfect combination of sass, vulnerability and regalness. I love how she often becomes exasperated with her advisors and others under her rule and resorts to sarcasm.

Moving on to the romance in Bitterblue: it felt a little distant for me, but I think it was for a reason. It wasn’t meant to be the main focus of the story. The plot, characters and world – plus Bitterblue’s journey- are the key to this book’s story.

Although I was really rooting for Bitterblue (the girl deserves a BREAK!), I wasn’t unhappy with how Cashore ended things. I mean, she had a tough act to follow after Katsa and Po’s story anyway.

There are also some really funny moments in this book (Katsa and Po wrestling on the ground while having a serious conversation with Bitterlbue), which was necessary with all of the pain present in the book.

Healing is a huge theme in Bitterblue, and I liked how complicated Cashore made it. The process of moving on from so much pain was as realistic as it could be considering Bitterblue is a fantasy book. The people in the book were definitely fleshed out – feeling jaded and wounded and facing insurmountable guilt.

The power of the mind is so strong, and I like how well Leck’s terrible power and its effects was portrayed.


Bitterblue was a fulfilling conclusion to Graceling. It was deep and complicated and full of meaning and substance. With some mature content, I would warn younger readers against jumping into this book. For the rest of us, gear up for a roller coaster of emotions: pain, sorrow, joy, love and heartache. The plot and characters of Bitterblue were’t rushed or forced, and I think it is one of the best series conclusions I’ve read in a long time.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.