Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #3
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Bitterblue reintroduces us to the characters from Graceling that I so sorely missed in Fire. Eight years into the future, we now focus on (if you could not tell from the name of the novel) Queen Bitterblue as she still tries to adjust to running a kingdom still under the fog of the whispers and lies of her father.
My biggest gripe with Fire was that it took a diversion from the kingdoms Cashore developed in Graceling, as well as the characters. And while Bitterblue is set in Monsea and we see the reappearance of Bitterblue, Po, Katsa, and the others, Cashore still spends a good majority of the time developing the new characters in the novel, while the characters from Graceling as set on the back burner.
Of the three novels, I still prefer the plot of Graceling the best. While the plot of Bitterblue is interesting, the air of mystery (at least the second time through) is not quite as interesting or satisfying as Graceling was. I daresay that, perhaps, Graceling actually gets better with each reading, while Fire and Bitterblue are stuck leaving the same impression as through the first read.
While Saf and Teddy are interesting characters, I would them a little one/two dimensional, same as Thiel and the other members of Bitterblue's castle. The back story into the happenings while Leck ruled were interesting, and the way that Cashore interwined Fire with Graceling and Bitterblue into this novel was compelling as well. The end of the novel left me satisfied, true, but I just could not help felling that the mystery/plot of the novel could have been better.
The Graceling Realm series is a classic example of where the first novel set the bar so high that it was difficult for the follow ups to compete. Yet, I reaffirm that Cashore doesn't suffer from a sophomore or junior slump; Bitterblue just doesn't quite live up to the wonderful new realm that Cashore created in Graceling. The fact that she developed the series as a group of companion novels instead of sequels, however, seems like the only choice, as each novel serves as a stand alone novel that can be enjoyed with diving too deep into the seven kingdoms.