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Book Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom marks the end of Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorn series. I’m so incredibly sad but satisfied. 🙁

Book Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

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the bitter kingdom by rae carson

Title & Author: The Bitter Kingdom (Girl of Fire and Thorns) by Rae Carson

Genre: YA Fantasy – Magic, High Fantasy

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Series: #3 The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

How I Got the Book: ARC via Publisher


“The epic and deeply satisfying conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

“Carson joins the ranks of writers like Kristin Cashore, Megan Whalen Turner, and Tamora Pierce as one of YA’s best writers of high fantasy.”-Locus magazine

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy.”

Fantastic Conclusion to The Girl of Fire and Thorns Series

The progression of Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns to The Crown of Embers to know the The Bitter Kingdom is truly amazing. At first, she’s shy, self-conscious and trusting. Then she’s heartbroken, strong and fierce.

In this final book in the The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, Elisa is a true queen – self-sacrificing, wise and powerful. I absolutely LOVE that Carson depicts the foreign queen as manipulative at times and so very clever. It gave the story a flair for crafty politics and intrigue.

What I especially loved about The Bitter Kingdom was the wealth of self-confidence and self-worth Elisa grows into. I especially loved this passage:

“You look beautiful,” Alodia says.

I startle at the compliment. Then I smile. “I’m beautiful to the one person who matters.”

She nods. “Hector’s mouth will drop open when he sees you.”

“I hope so. But I meant me. I’m beautiful to me.”

Awesome, right?

Another thing I loved about the book was Carson’s use of mysteries – how to reveal them or keep them a secret. Elisa finds so many answers to her questions about her authority, her Godstone and Joyans sworn enemy, the Inviernos. But some things remain hidden and unknowable.

In those moments, her faith is displayed and that characteristic religious belief comes out. To me, it was a beautiful thing to read that I didn’t think was overdone or “preachy.”

More from Carson

I can’t fully describe how much I’ve loved this series. It’s been exciting, well-paced and extremely romantic. ALL OF MY FAVORITES!

So, I think it’s only fair you know about what other projects Carson has up her sleeve.

If you haven’t have enough of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, there are two novellas:

Completely NEW, however, is her next series: The Goldscryer Saga! Due out in 2014, the story is a “‘a sweeping and romantic fantasy’ that follows a teenage girl whose magical ability to find gold puts her in a dangerous position during the American Gold Rush.”

Very different from The Girl of Fire and Thorns realm, but intriguing nonetheless!


I am more than a little devastated that this series has come to and end. Carson did a fantastic job of finishing off the final novel with a BANG. The Bitter Kingdom has angry animagus flinging fireballs and melty romantic scenes and one of the best heroines I’ve ever gotten to know. The Bitter Kingdom is definitely, absolutely, without a doubt on my Best Books of 2013 list.

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.
  • Stephanie

    There’s another novella in this series called Shadow Cats. Out of all the novellas, I think it’s the best one. I’m so glad you loved this series. I think it’s one of my favorites of all time!