Review posted May 21, 2012.
Dial Books, 2012. 563 pages.
The cover explains how this book fits in to Kristin Cashore's other work: "Sequel to Graceling, Companion to Fire." I reread Graceling before reading Bitterblue, and reread Fire immediately after. Both books were even better the second time around. Kristin Cashore writes books with richness and depth.
Bitterblue is different from the first two books. Bitterblue is now Queen of Monsea. She is not graced, like Katsa in Graceling, though there are many Gracelings around her, including Katsa and Po. She is not a Monster, like Fire, though Fire does come into this story.
This book is the story of Bitterblue coming of age and learning to be a good queen. She does some visiting her city incognito. She finds some writings both her mother and her father left behind. Mostly, she's trying to help her kingdom come to terms with the horrors her father subjected it to. She's figuring out how to carry on.
Meanwhile, there's unrest in many of the other kingdoms. Katsa and Po are still active on the Council, trying to help victims of injustice.
Bitterblue is trying to rule well, but along the way, she needs to uncover many secrets. She also needs to come to terms with the horrors that her father carried out.
All of that sounds a little dry and dull summed up like that. It is anything but dry and dull. We still have Kristin Cashore's rich language and vivid imagination as we read about an ordinary girl who has become queen. Can she become a good one? And what does that mean, in a world where the people are rising up against their rulers?