Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue (The Seven Kingdoms, #3)
by Kristin Cashore 

Genre: Fantasy
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Source: ARC from publisher
Age Rating: 15+

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 Review

I have to say Bitterblue was somewhat disappointing for me. I really liked Graceling, the first book in this series, but Bitterblue is very long, longer than need be, and just doesn't have the excitement Graceling has. It's not that the plot is worse, because it's fine being an unraveling mystery for Queen Bitterblue to sort out. She has to discover all the ways her late father, King Leck, ruined her country and its people, and it takes its toll on her emotionally, as it does many other characters. It's well written, even better technically than Graceling, but reading about how Bitterblue runs around her castle solving clues for 500 pages gets old very quickly.

I like Bitterblue as a character and she's nothing like Katsa, by the way. There's a lot of feminism in Graceling that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but I didn't mind it. I like that Katsa can be a heroine who doesn't want to get married or have children because that is so rare, but I don't even feel like she's much of a poster child for feminism, since she latches onto her boyfriend Po for dear life. What kind of feminism is that? -__- Bitterblue knows she'll marry one day and wants to, and in this novel, she falls in love with someone she can't possibly marry for political reasons.

Saf is a decent male hero whose more of an anti-hero, but I didn't feel like he was in the story enough. Bitterblue liked him probably more than she should have for how little he appears in the story. I wish he had been in it more just so I could believe her feelings for him were justified. But, then there's the issue of her seemingly growing attraction to Giddon and I wonder what will happen with them in the future. I'm not sure anymore books will be written in this series, let alone volumes that will include anything on Queen Bitterblue's future, so I may never find out. As for my favorite character in the series, I like that there's more Raffin in this story compared to Graceling, but he doesn't even have to be in it because he doesn't do much of anything useful.

Anyway, overall, it is a decent book but nothing like Graceling. Still, I felt the mystery element was handled really well and you get to discover along with Bitterblue just how truly horrific King Leck was during his reign. The man was sicker than the sickest sicky that ever sicked. If you're curious at all about him as a character, you will find a treasure trove of information in this installment.

My score: 3/5 stars.

*I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers in exchange for my honest opinion of the story.


  1. Bummer, sorry to hear this wasn't better. I have somewhat of a personal beef with really long books. If a book is over 350 or 400 pages, I think there should be a really GOOD reason for it. I think it's really hard to keep up a good pace when stories get too long.

    1. @Camille: I agree--it's tough to keep a story intriguing if it's getting into the 500's. There ought to be a good reason for it, but I don't think there was one for Bitterblue.

  2. interesting review; I have a copy of this one on my shelves, but haven't read it since everybody seems to not really liked it. and I hated Graceling, so I'm REALLY hesitant on reading this one. O___o

    but lovely review! it does make me want to pull Bitterblue off of the shelf and crack it open. . .

    1. @Ash: You still want to read Bitterblue, after all? Well, who knows. You may like it better than Graceling. The writing isn't a problem in this one.

  3. I know a lot of people who have the same feelings about Bitterblue. I suppose she isn't meant to be like Katsa at all and maybe that's why people have had a different reaction to her. I might like Bitterblue considering I didn't really feel a connection to Katsa. But the fact that this'd such a long book kinda puts me off.

    1. @Lan: Bitterblue was easier to relate to as a character, but the book was too long and just dragged a lot. You might like it, who knows?

  4. See?! I was so excited for this one and then I started seeing reviews. All the politic stuff has me hesitating big time. So, you didn't mention Fire. Did you read that one?

    1. @Jenny: I know. The reviews aren't all that great for this one. Sorry about that!

      I didn't review Fire because I decided to read it later, after Bitterblue, and I still haven't, yet. I wanted to read my ARC of Bitterblue first because there was a deadline for my review of it.


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