Kristin Cashore has written another magnificent novel, just as riveting and emotional as Graceling and Fire. Bitterblue is such a wonderful main character—she's inquisitive and brave, and even though she struggles with the day to day business of being queen and managing her advisers, her passion for her country and the people is genuine. Her decision to go into the city is as much of an attempt to learn more about her kingdom as it is a step of freedom made for her own sake. Throughout the novel she must deal with all sorts of inner pain and doubt when it comes to the memories of her parents, the confusing time spent with Leck, and trying to learn the truth about all of the things she doesn't understand. Saf and Teddy aren't able to help her directly with these problems, but put her on the right path towards figuring them out. With the help of trusted friends and family members, she slowly begins to uncover a conspiracy to hide what Leck did and deciphers the secrets both parents kept encrypted.
There are many twists and turns throughout the plot, plenty of skillful and (sometimes) surprising character development, and a good deal of heartbreak as Bitterblue delves into the darkest memories of Monsea in order to better understand how to help her country heal. This theme of uncovering the truth and moving beyond a legacy of pain and suffering is strong and wrought with pain, but it's executed perfectly in Cashore's skilled hand. Her writing is expressive, complex, and full of feeling. She's spectacularly talented, and the way she weaves Bitterblue's story together with the prequels Graceling and Fire is both impressive and delightful. Bitterblue is full of perfect amounts of drama, pain, emotion, humor, and romance with a stunning ending that will leave readers wondering where Cashore will take them next.
Cover Comments: I love the cover. The blue and purple are pretty, and the keys are so significant to the book. Not only does Bitterblue have to unlock secrets of her past, but she also does some literal unlocking as well. The cover is gorgeous!
ARC provided by publisher.
Note: It doesn't matter which order you read Graceling and Fire in (though I say start with Graceling), but note that Bitterblue is a direct sequel to Graceling, and a companion to Fire. However, as there are a couple of major Fire spoilers in Bitterblue, I recommend reading both before Bitterblue! You can read my reviews by clicking on the links above.