From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Bitterblue, who appeared as a child in Graceling (2008), comes into her own as a woman and a queen, looking beyond her advisors and secretly exploring her city in order to discover her purpose as ruler. Years after the violent acts initiated by her father, the past still haunts his victims and taints those forced to carry out his sadistic orders. Working blindly and unsure who to trust, Bitterblue tries to uncover her father's darkest secrets and heal the still-festering wounds he created. Meanwhile, troubles are brewing outside her country's borders and within her castle walls. Though the novel could be read on its own, it will be more fully understood by readers of Graceling and Fire (2009), as some characters from those books have roles here as well. Readers drawn to Cashore's novels by the strong, complex protagonists, their love stories, and their adventures will find similar elements here. Bitterblue is a strong-willed yet vulnerable character, but her love story and adventures are overshadowed by the painfully slow revelations of old secrets, ongoing deceptions, and malicious intrigues. Still, a must-read title for Cashore's many fans. HIGH-DEMAND BACK STORY: With publicity that ranges from an author tour to a dedicated website, to promotion at Comic-Con International, this will get plenty of attention.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Gr 8 Up-When the evil King Leck was killed, his 10-year-old daughter, Bitterblue, suddenly became Queen of Monsea. King Leck had the Grace, or power, to muddle people's minds to do his bidding. His 35-year reign was filled with brutal murders, rapes, torture, and deceit, and the now 18-year-old queen is struggling to hold together the pieces of her crumbling kingdom. Feeling that her advisors are sheltering her from harsh truths, she disguises herself as a commoner and ventures out at night to local story rooms to hear tales of her father's reign and begin to learn how best to help her people. It is on one of these outings that she meets Saf, a young thief. Thinking that he and his friends can help her to gain insight into Monsea and its people, Bitterblue soon falls for him, despite his reckless behavior and the claim that he has yet to discover his Grace. Meanwhile, "truthseekers" are being sought out and silenced for what they know. Bitterblue tries to connect the dots, but the more she explores, the more she begins to question who she can trust, even (and especially) within her own administration. The novel starts a bit slow and is perhaps a bit too long, but those minute flaws are easily overlooked once readers are ensconced in this wondrous world of the Seven Kingdoms. The book can stand on its own, but it will most thoroughly be enjoyed by fans of Graceling (Harcourt, 2008) and its companion book, Fire (Dial, 2009). Characters from both novels appear in this installment, which ends with clear direction for another title. Cashore's imagined world is brilliantly detailed and brimming with vibrant and dynamic characters.-Lauren Newman, Northern Burlington County Regional Middle School, Columbus, NJ (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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When last seen, Bitterblue had been crowned queen of Monsea, after Katsa, the heroine of Graceling, killed her father, King Leck. (He had it coming.) Eight years have passed; Bitterblue, now 18, is in power, even as her counselors have attempted to sweep the wretched perversity of Leck's reign under the rug. Bitterblue objects-not only because she thinks she needs to understand that history in order to lead but because she feels constrained by busy work that keeps her trapped in the castle. Spirited and frustrated, she dons a disguise, sneaks out, and quickly befriends a printer and a handsome thief. Complications, naturally, ensue. Her romance and growth into the role of queen are among the best parts of this sprawling story, which brings forward (but does not entirely resolve) plot strands from both Graceling and Fire. There are many pleasures-fans will welcome the return of Katsa and her lover, Po; Bitterblue's court includes Death (rhymes with teeth), a dour librarian graced with the ability to read fast and remember every word. Once the narrative shifts from Bitterblue's clandestine adventures in the city to her convalescence inside the castle, the story loses some steam, even as the sick nature of Leck's abuses are unearthed. Nonetheless, devotees of the earlier books and fans of Megan Whalen Turner's intricate political fantasies will relish this novel of palace intrigue. Ages 14-up. Agent: Faye Bender, Faye Bender Literary Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.