By: Kristin Cashore
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC borrowed from the amazing Karen
Release Date: May 1st, 2012, from Dial/Penguin
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
Pre-order: Mrs. Nelson's||Barnes&Noble||Amazon||Book Depository
Designed to deceive and fabricated to steal, Bitterblue is a more-bitter-than-sweet story bursting with emotions and hidden truths destined to kill.
For years I have known myself to be a hopeless romantic, a girl who can't possibly bear the contention of a character being forcibly pulled away from their love, but upon the immediate finishing of Bitterblue, I realized that it is not outside force that can deal the most damage to the heart. Sometimes, it's one's own desires that clash so disastrously that no compromise can be made, and either choice is the wrong yet right one.
It's like how I felt with Bitterblue, but not true as well: for Bitterblue was beautifully executed with shocks of outrageous truths wedged in between, so that sometimes, what I finally understand threatens to destroy me. There are mental and physical obstacles in Bitterblue, but I cannot say that either one is more prominent than the other. Yes, the mental state of Monsea is a mess threaded with unabashed determination, but sometimes mentality isn't so much a mental fight than physical: the reign of Leck still harms with a viciousness unmatched and a heart of the cruelest. What poor Bitterblue must face is an array of endless hurdles that only her nightly sneak-outs can compensate for, and yes, that is my one problem: Kristin Cashore, and what the romantic decisions she made did to me.
I fell in love with Saf (you'll know he's the love interest based on the summary and the very first time you meet him, so I don't suppose I'm particularly spoiling anything) from the moment I first saw/read him steal something. No, it's not that I'm extravagantly fond of thieves--it's simply his quiet ambition that burned its way through my heart--and Bitterblue's, too. Their love was beautiful and raw and full of impossible deceits and treachery, and they deserved a Happily Ever After so badly I begged for it, if only silently. Yet I do not believe that they received what they deserved, and it breaks my heart. I'm so pathetic that I conjured a whole new epilogue for years on end after the book's finale, so that I can force myself to believe what I don't dare--what my logic and brain already understands--to comprehend. I believe in second chances--in third and fourth chances--and I won't let the simple last page of this very-much-not-simple novel steal another thing from me, especially my heart. Still, don't misunderstand me: I loved this book; I just hated it, too, for what it did to me, and therefore I cannot decide whether or not my true feelings are even existent, when I feel so devastatingly conflicted.
It's a precaution I mention to others who read this, for it's not simply the boundaries of the pages that provide a subtly endangering threat to the very emotions of the reader: this book cradles truths fragile as glass, and swift as a bird. The keys on the cover convey all you need to know: be careful, for every key will be turned, and may the truth endow you in an enchantment and understanding that overshadows what great shocks may smother us all.