Dial, 576 pages
"The long-awaited companion to New York Times best sellers Graceling and Fire. 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 35-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."
The first two books in The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy literally blew my mind. Fire and Graceling set the standards for all of my favorite books. I have never been so captivated and empowered by a YA book before reading those two books. The characters were marvelous in both of the books, and it was hard to let them go. What was such an amazing and wonderful surprise is that characters from both Fire and Graceling reappear in Bitterblue! Bitterblue is the book that connects the dots between Fire and Graceling. It's wonderful, exciting, and enthralling just like it's predecessors. I know it says in the jacket cover that you don't need to have read Fire and Graceling before reading Bitterblue, but I disagree. I think a person wouldn't get nearly the same amount of satisfaction out of the book if they didn't.
While Graceling was much more of an action and adventure oriented book and Fire purely court politics, Bitterblue is much more about courtly intrigue with the action coming and going in spurts. If you took the best of Fire and Graceling, you would come up with Bitterblue. There is plenty of mystery when trying to figure out King Leck's castle, and the flashbacks to when he would rule were certainly frightening at some moments. I love that Queen Bitterblue is such a strong female character. She has been left with a kingdom in complete shambles, and yet she finds the strength to bring it back.
When you first see the book in your hands, you will think, "Sheesh! Is 576 pages really necessary?" The answer is yes. Abso-freaking-lutely. You will get to the last pages and be totally upset that it has to end. Things get REALLY interesting by the end of the book! (Can we please have another sequel? :D)
I guess if you are wondering whether or not to read this book, the answer is this: HOW COULD YOU NOT? But you should definitely check out the previous two books first. That way you can fall irrevocably in love with the characters and world before beginning Bitterblue.
Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!