Monday, May 7, 2012

Deep Blue Mystery: BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore

Cover image of Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, a YA fantasy published by Dial (2012)
BITTERBLUE (Graceling Realm #3) by Kristin Cashore
YA Fantasy
547 pages, hardcover
Available now (May 2012)
Publisher: Dial
Review copy purchased

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.

Y'all. This is definitely going in my top ten books for the year. About halfway through, I though about stopping to blog about how awesome it was but I couldn't force myself to put it down that long. This is the third book set in the Graceling Realm and it does help if you've read GRACELING or FIRE before picking this one up, it's not necessary at all. 

Queen Bitterblue is quite figuratively trapped in her tower, as her well-meaning advisers keep her buried under piles of paperwork. Bitterblue's disconnected from her people and has the strong, sneaking suspicion that something is seriously wrong within her kingdom--and with her advisors.

There's such amazing mysteries threading their way throughout the entire story, none of which are easily uncovered. Those hiding the truth are seriously tricksy little buggers, keeping evil King Leck's legacy alive through murder, intrigue, and disappearing information. It's fantastically puzzling and Bitterblue's own frustration is palpable.

Old friends return to aid Bitterblue--Katsa and Po, the heroes from GRACELING, and a surprise visitor, too--and new friends join the fold. A little romance blossoms for Bitterblue and one (or two or none, depending on how you look at it. Definitely NOT a love triangle, though) of her new friends but I liked how it wasn't the focus of the story and it works out quite realistically. While the story is absolutely fantastic, it's the characters who really make this novel a standout. They're beautifully rendered, each with such individual personalities that, when they walk onto the page, they practically glow.

Kristin Cashore spins a beautiful story, effortlessly weaving together a multitude of mysteries, a plethora of intriguing characters, and a legacy of Graceling skills.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound


  1. I have nothing useful to say here, since I haven't read any of Cashore's book yet (but I WILL and I look forward to it!), but I did want to say that on Thursday I'm putting up my recap of the book signing I went to and you should check it out! (there weren't any bookmarks for me to get Kristin to sign, though. :( )

  2. I loved Graceling! I am really looking forward to seeing a little bit of Katsa and Po in Bitterblue. I have heard mixed reviews on this one but am excited to see for myself! :)

  3. One your top ten books for the year? Awesome! Glad to hear that the characters are great in this one, too. I was going to wait until Thursday to pick up a copy, but you're really making me want to go to the bookstore today ;)

    Wonderful review!

  4. I think I fail at being a book blogger because I haven't read this series yet. At least I'm not alone (YEAH AMANDA!), and I hope to get there soon because clearly these books are amazing and I want to be in the loop of their awesomeness:)

  5. So excited for this!!!! I want to re-read Graceling before I read this one, so I think I'll do that after I get and read City of Lost Souls.

  6. I've decided! I must read this book and the others in the series this summer! I feel like almost everyone has read these books and they just look so amazing. Great review, Mary!

  7. I just scanned your review since I haven't read Fire yet, but all these good reviews makes me want to reread Graceling, read Fire, and then read Bitterblue!

  8. Oh I hope my copy gets here soon! It still hasn't shipped :( I'm so glad it was simply amazing. Cant wait to read it!

  9. WOW! Top 10 of the year?

    This hasn't really been on my radar but I might just have to change my mind!

  10. I can't wait to get started on this! I still need to read Fire, and I'm hoping to get to it soon. I'm SO glad to see that Po and Katsa are in the book as well. I love them! SO glad you are enjoying this!

  11. I'm seeing such mixed reviews on this one! I enjoyed Graceling but never got around to reading Fire. I'm especially curious about this one though because Bitterblue was my fav. character so I kinda ant to skip Fire and read this one haha. But my OCD won't let me *twitch*

  12. EEE! We're so glad to hear that you loved it. We are reading it now, but very, very slowly, because we want to savor every word. We adored GRACELING and FIRE, and we have no doubt that we are going to cherish BITTERBLUE too.