by Kristin Cashore
Dial Books, 2012. 563 pgs. Young Adult Fiction
This is considered a sequel to Graceling and a companion novel to Fire because it incorporates characters from Cashore’s first two fantasy novels. Now eight years after the terrible reign of King Leck has come to an end, his daughter, Bitterblue, is trying to move past the horrors to a new bright future for her kingdom. But Bitterblue has been cut off from direct access to her people by her advisors. Feeling out of touch she decides to disguise herself and visit the taverns of her city late at night to listen to what her people are saying. There she meets Teddy and Saf, two clever, Robin Hood-like thieves that help her learn about the strange things happening in the kingdom of Monsea.
To make matters worse there is political unrest throughout the Seven Kingdoms stirred up by Katsa and Po’s Council. Barely 18, Bitterblue feels overwhelmed by all that is happening around her and with conflicting stories from her advisors and Teddy and Saf, she doesn’t know whom to trust.
After reading this book, I could understand why Kristin Cashore felt she need to write it. She needed a conclusion to the horrors that happened while Leck was alive. However, as a reader I was a disappointed. This novel lacks the romance and adventure from Graceling and the strange and wild world of Fire. The novel also goes to some dark places as Bitterblue learns more of the specific tortures of King Leck. Unless you just really need a conclusion to Cashore’s fantasy series, I might pass on it.