Helloo! I have been pretty busy non-stop for the past few weeks with babysitting, editing, and going down to PA for a friend’s wedding (which I still can’t believe happened) so this blog hasn’t been updated for a bit.
But today I am excited to be back an talking about a book I read earlier in the summer (after this I will finally be caught up with reviews so that’s exciting).
A few summers ago I read Graceling by Kristin Cashore and it’s companion novel, Fire, both of which were amazing. I also read Bitterblue, the sequel to Graceling, but I decided I didn’t like it, and I never ended up finishing it.
Over the summer I’ve been rereading a few things, including Graceling and Fire, so I decided to give Bitterblue another chance. And I ended up loving it!
The first time I tried reading it, I didn’t have a lot of time to read so I would only read a few pages at a time before falling asleep, and I ended up losing track of the plot. I think that has a lot to do with my first impressions of the book. But this time I read it during my vacation time and I devoured the book in my favorite reading chair over the course of a few days and it was great!
If you haven’t read the first two books, I recommend doing that before reading this review because there will be some SPOILERS.
Bitterblue starts years after Graceling. Bitterblue is a young adult now in charge of her own kingdom that is still working to recover from King Leck’s tyrannical rule. Bitterblue, tired of signing papers in her tower with her team of advisors, decides to get to know her city on her own. When she sneaks out at night she finds a crazy cast of characters and many unanswered questions, like why is the city in such a state of disarray, and what are the majestic bridges leading nowhere? So she sets out to find out the answers to these questions on her own.
There are a lot of subplots to this story that don’t come together until the end, which may have had to do with why I lost track of the story on the first read, but I was really able to enjoy the structure of the book on the second round.
I also really liked Bitterblue’s court life and the way it was portrayed in Cashore’s world. I’ve always enjoyed court novels, probably has to do with all the Tamora Pierce books I’ve read. Court novels just lend themselves so well to intrigue, secrets, and gossip, which Bitterblue (the book, not the character) thrives on. It was also interesting to see Katsa and Po from an outsider’s point of view. During Graceling I thought they were super cute, but there were times during Bitterblue where they got a little clingy I thought. Bitterblue also has a closer relationship to Po, which makes sense since they are cousins, and becomes intimidated by Katsa at different points in the story, which is also understandable. Katsa is a force to be reckoned with. I really liked the way Po cared for Bitterblue, and it was nice to see another perspective of him beyond the mysterious character that he is portrayed as in Graceling.
The minor characters of the story are also well portrayed, and while I like Saf and Bitterblue’s relationship, I could also see her doing well in a relationship with Gidon. I’m not usually one to create my own ships for characters that aren’t cannon (other than Neville and Luna in HP – they BELONG together!), but I did like how Bitterblue and Gidon get along. She always felt comfortable with him, which was important considering everything else that was going on in her life. But she does well with Saf too, and I can see them getting along well in the future beyond the end of the book. Thoughts?
There are many puzzles and riddles throughout the book as Bitterblue tries to figure out what’s going on which made for a good read. There was a lot going on but the pace moved along well, and the story was always pushing forward.
I also liked the way Bitterblue tied the two previous books together, especially towards the end. It also painted a strong picture of Leck, even though he died two books ago. He remained a strong character throughout the three books without having too much “screen time”, which made for an interesting read.
Anyone else read Bitterblue out there? What are your thoughts?