REVIEW: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Published: 2013, Firebird

My copy: Paperback (bought at The Strand Bookstore)

Summary: When Queen Bitterblue took the throne of Monsea, she was a child, and her advisers ran the kingdom for her. Now she is beginning to question their decisions, especially how they handle the legacy of her father Leck, who who ruled through his Grace—a special talent for mind-altering—and his taste for darkness and violence. Bitterblue needs to know Monsea’s past to lead it into the future, so she begins exploring the city streets at night, disguised and alone. As she does, she meets two thieves, who hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart. [Goodreads]

First review of March! I was really excited to get back into the Graceling realm, so I flew through the beginning of this book. Bitterblue was one of my favorite characters in Graceling and her narration in this book was what kept me going when the plot became really slow and/or confusing. There are so many things going on in Bitterblue, it was hard to read this in multiple sittings instead of just one. First of all, Bitterblue is queen and having issues with law breakers in her kingdom. Along with that, she is trying to move on from her father Leck’s reign of terror that had a huge effect on the kingdom’s people. Third, she has begun to sneak out at night to learn more about the area that she has never even seen for longer than a day. When she visits the city at night, she meets Teddy and Saf, thieves who become her friends. I love Teddy and Saf because they represent everything that Bitterblue doesn’t know but wants to learn, and they eventually help her become a better queen. Also, Po and Katsa (main characters from Graceling) are a big part of Bitterblue’s journey and offer their support while also going through their own problems and being all cute and couple-y. Saf and Bitterblue also have a romantic plot line, but it recedes into the background as other things come up that take priority in Cashore’s writing.

What I really didn’t like about Bitterblue was the ending, which was dragged out in an attempt to create a surprising climax, but by the time the intensity reached maximum, I was bored. The ends didn’t come together in a way that I would’ve preferred, so I finished the book feeling unsatisfied and slightly unhappy. There were so many good ideas and plot lines that when Bitterblue started to wrap it up, I didn’t want it to end so that I would be able to feel better about the story.

Overall, Kristin Cashore is a beautiful writer who can created amazing stories and characters, but I feel like Bitterblue was trying to compensate for something that I didn’t know of. I didn’t read Fire, but it’s possible that she wanted to do more in Po and Katsa’s world so Bitterblue was super long to make that happen. There was just too much of the same repetitive stuff for me in the middle and end for me to really get into it, so after the third of Bitterblue’s men to hide something from her, I lost a lot of my motivation to finish it. The idea was good, but I wasn’t impressed with Cashore’s execution of Bitterblue’s story.

“The more I see and hear, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

Rating: 3/5 stars



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