Released: May 1, 2012 by Dial
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Rating: 5/5 Stars
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. - Summary from Goodreads
Queen Bitterblue herself was one of the pride and glories of this novel. She's been a queen since she was a child and does not want to be sheltered any more. She wants to expose the atrocities caused to her kingdom by her father even if it is something so terrible it causes emotional friction between herself and her advisers. When those old men aren't looking, she sneaks out of the castle in disguise to see the kingdom for herself and meets some really excellent side characters like the adorable Teddy and charming Saf- though I still maintain one of the best gems of this tale is Bitterblue's kooky librarian, Death. Characters from the previous books make appearances in Bitterblue like the ever amazing duo of Po and Katsa. Each character adds a layer to this tale that helps Bitterblue discover the kingdom and herself.
I absolutely loved the mood of this book. While this book isn't chock full of action scenes, it is full of intrigue and discovery. Interpretations, hidden secrets, and messages written in secret code will certainly keep you on your toes. The world is as excellent as ever, even if Monsea is a bit grimy from its horrible past. The uncoverings of Leck's gruesome habits really are just that- gruesome. This book isn't for the faint of heart, though the horrible bits are really just history and not actually occurring in the book's present day. I recommend this book and series to readers who love fantasy, mystery, and a bit of romance. I couldn't put this down and you won't be able to either!