Eight years have passed since Graceling and eighteen-year-old Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. It isn't easy to lead a kingdom that is recovering from the thirty-five-year reign of her father Leck, a sadistic maniac with the ability to alter people's perceptions of reality. Stuck in her castle tower signing papers all day, she can't help but feel removed from the kingdom she is supposed to rule. So Bitterblue begins to sneak out of the castle at night--anonymously--to intermingle with her subjects so that she can learn about their lives and become a more effective queen. On the streets of the city, she discovers that her kingdom is not as peaceful as her closest advisors have led her to believe after she befriends a group of people trying to expose the truth about what happened during Leck's reign and set things right. When her friends become the target of those who intend to silence the truth, Bitterblue decides that she cannot rest until she understands exactly what Leck did that left her kingdom so damaged. Only then can she help her kingdom heal from the truth of those atrocities.
Bitterblue (Graceling #3)—Book Review
Fans of Graceling and its companion book, Fire, will enjoy Bitterblue, an immensely readable and compelling sequel featuring another strong and likable female character. While it is not necessary to read Graceling first, readers who do will have a greater appreciation of the characters and storyline. Queen Bitterblue longs to be useful and effectual to her kingdom. Whenever she discovers that an injustice has been done, she fights to right the wrong, whether by instating a renumeration program for her father's thefts or a literacy program to ensure the proper education of her subjects. Readers who enjoy romance will be pleased that Bitterblue has a love interest--a townsperson who also happens to be a bit of a thief that she meets while exploring the city incognito. The two have a bumpy relationship after Bitterblue's true identity is discovered, but once she is forgiven for her deceit, they share one night together and sex between these two older teens is implied (Bitterblue eats a special plant to prevent pregnancy). Bitterblue is haunted by memories of her evil father, and as she discovers the full truth of his actions, some upsetting events are revealed (though not described in too much detail), including the rape and murder of women and children and gruesome experiments on living beings, including animals. One of Bitterblue's beloved advisors can no longer live with the memory of the role he played in King Leck's atrocities and commits suicide. Language is mild and infrequent (b-tch, a-s, horsesh-t, d-mn), and both hetero- and homosexual relationships are accepted equally. Readers can't help but root for Bitterblue as she fights to change what it means to be queen and in turn change her kingdom.
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