Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

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Title: Bitterblue

Author: Kristin Cashore

Genre: Fantasy/YA/Romance

Rating: ****

Review: Bitterblue became queen at 10 years old after her father Leck was killed. Now she is 18 years old and running her own kingdom. She spends most of her time in her tower office just signing papers all day long, with occasional court apprentices. One of her advisers Thiel brings up the topic of her marrying but Bitterblue refuses to marry. After a few days Bitterblue decides to go out and see her city. Which she has never even seen. Bitterblue ends up in an ally under Monster Bridge and notices there is a building that is a story pub.

After being out that night Bitterblue is sitting back in her tower office and decides that she wants a map of Bitterblue city. When a king dies the city is called by the current person taking over, in which case is Bitterblue. Later that night Bitterblue decides to go back into the city and on her way to the pub she sees a knife fight out in the street. Then when she gets to the pub its self she ends up seeing a pub fight. As she leaves the pub she walks the streets and notices rundown buildings and then she ends up at another story pub. So she goes in and notices that it is just like the other pub, only a different story person.

When she gets back to the castle later that night she sees two people who are stealing statues on the east wall. As they walk by she notices they are two guys from the first story pub. When she wakes up that morning and sitting in her tower office Thiel brings up her marrying Skye, who is Po’s brother and Bitterblue tells Thiel that Skye is into men not women. Then she spends the day signing papers. Then goes out later that night.

Bitterblue has been back to the pub three nights in a row and she ends up seeing the two men who stole her statues and ends up befriending them. Their names are Saf and Teddy. She ends up staying out till morning. When she gets back she finds Po sitting in her bedroom. Po knows where Bitterblue has been and he notices that she has been walking around with a Graceling. The Graceling is Saf, who actually does not know his Grace.

A few days later Bitterblue is sitting in her tower office, she is told that she is to meet Lord Danzhol to have a paper signed that gives him the power to take over his lands the way they should be. But Danzhol knocks out Thiel and tries to kidnap Bitterblue, which he ends up dead because Bitterblue is able to get to her knife in her boot and stabs Danzhol. But before she kills Danzhol she finds out that he has a Graceling that is graced with blending in.

After she spends most of the day, after stabbing Danzhol she decides to go out and see Saf and Teddy. Only when she gets to Saf and Teddy Bitterblue learns that while Leck was king Saf’s parents had sent him away on a Lienid ship because he is a Graceling. Bitterblue finds out that Saf and Teddy’s parents where in the resistance and that king Leck is the one that killed them. Once again Bitterblue stays out all night with Saf and Teddy and heads back to the Castle at dawn. When she gets back to the Castle Bitterblue sits in her tower offices for most of the morning and signs papers all over again. But when it hits noon Bitterblue decides to take a walk around her grounds and while she is walking she finds out that Katsa has showed up. Katsa is Po’s lover and Katsa and Po are the ones that run the council.

Later that night as Katsa has settled into her rooms Bitterblue decides instead of going out that she will get sleep, she is very exhausted. But for Bitterblue it doesn’t feel like she slept long because Katsa has her up at dawn telling her to get ready for practice. Bitterblue finds that doing practices with Katsa gives her mind a break from everything she is worrying about. While practicing with Katsa, Bitterblue decides that maybe she can find books in her library that will tell her something she needs to do to change things in her kingdom.

So Bitterblue goes to her library and asks her librarian, who is graced with being able to remember every book and word to that book and write it, had it been lost. So Bitterblue starts with the books that Leck made her learn as a child to see what she could find out. While reading the books Bitterblue finds out that Leck had 4,031 books destroyed, but since Bitterblues Librarian knows every book he has been writing all the books that were destroyed. Bitterblue finds out that her librarian has already done re-writes of 245 books so far. While talking to her librarian Bitterblue also finds out that her advisers, who were also Leck’s men, where healers.

Later that night as Bitterblue is headed to the print shop that Saf and Teddy live at Saf grabs Bitterblue and takes he to the roof, where Bitterblue learns that there are people out trying to kill the truth-seekers. The truth-seekers are people who are trying to find out the truth about what Leck actually did when he was king. But while sitting on the roof with Saf Bitterblue can’t help but feel guilty because Saf does not know that she is actually queen. He thinks she is a baker girl that works in the queens kitchens. So they call her Sparks.

When Bitterblue finally goes back to the castle the next morning, Bitterblue gets caught up in the reading the books that her librarian has given her that she doesn’t leave the castle for a few days. But Bitterblue finds out that Po has found the woman that can turn into her surroundings. The woman’s name is Hava and she actually lives in the castle. But she is also Holt’s niece. Holt is Bitterblues Graced guard who is graced with strength. Bitterblue also finds out that Holt has been stealing Sculptures and then returning them because Hava has told Holt to. The Sculptures are actually Hava’s mothers doing. But her mother was killed by Leck.

Bitterblue finds out that her lady servant Helda knows that she has been sneaking out into the city at night and gives her seabane, which helps prevent pregnancy. Which makes Bitterblue laugh because she has not done anything. Later that day, as Bitterblue is walking around the Castle, she decides to go to court appearance and when she enters she comes face to face with Saf, who finally learns that Sparks is actually the queen. But Bitterblue finds out that Saf is being tried for murder, which Bitterblue knows he didn’t do because Bitterblue was with him the night it took place. So she calls for Po and Po gets Saf out of trouble.

After Saf is set free Bitterblue has Po bring Saf to her rooms so that she can talk to him. But when he shows up he is very rude and hostile towards Bitterblue. But at the end of the argument Bitterblue realizes that Saf has stolen her crown. After her crown is stolen Bitterblue starts to wander how things are paid for in the city and wandering how the poor get by. Bitterblue learns from her advisers that Saf actually committed treason. So Bitterblue goes to the printing shop where Teddy and Saf are and asks Saf why he stole the crown and Saf tells her he did it to make her feel unhappy. Bitterblue tells Saf that all it did was make her worry about him even more than she already did. As Bitterblue leaves the shop, she is attacked and Saf goes out and saves her.

While recovering Bitterblue learns the Runnemood, one of her advisers, set fire to the prisoners and even had people hired to kill Bitterblue. Then ran for it. On top of that Bitterblue finds out that Thiel was the one that last seen Runnemood. So Bitterblue lets Thiel go because she feels she cannot trust him. As Bitterblue is in her bedroom Bitterblue realizes that the embroidery that is on her sheets the embroidery is actually ciphered words. Bitterblues librarian gives her re-writes of books and so Bitterblue decides to give them to Teddy so that he can make multiple copies of the book.

Bitterblue goes in search of Lecks rooms and finds nothing but statues with red paint on them, that Bitterblue does not understand, but she knows that her father wanted them destroyed. Bitterblue decides to take a tour through her castle and decides to go to her kitchens with Giddion and finds out that she has a graced kitchen worker that has the grace of knowing what you want before you do. After spending some time in the kitchen her, Po, and Giddion decide that they should head back to their rooms for a bit. But Bitterblue decides to go find Hava, which she finds her in the art gallary among the sculptures. Bitterblue finds out that Hava doesn’t change form she just causes the person to see what they think they see.

After a few days of trying to find out what runnemood had been up to before he ran off, Bitterblue’s captain Smit has told her things that her own spies have yet to confirm but now he seems to have run off as well. That same day that Captain Smit has run off Katsa comes back from the mountain tunnel that she has been trying to get through with a very oddly colored rat type animal. Bitterblue finds out that the animal could do what Leck could do, which was make someone think they are safe and then attack them by surprise. After finding that out Bitterblue wants Katsa to go back and see if she can make it all the way to the other side.

Later that evening Bitterblue is called to the stables, where she sees Runnemood’s body. From what her healer knows, Runnemood died by drowning the night he ran off. Bitterblue also finds out, that where they found Runnemood’s body is full of bones. So she sends her healer and Saf to go get the bones. While they are away Bitterblue asks Thiel to come back, but when she sees him she notices that his arms are bleeding.

A few days goes by and Saf and the healer come back. Saf finds Bitterblue’s servant/spy girl’s keys and lock pick set. So Bitterblue decides to try the keys on all doors in Leck’s room. Where she finds all of Leck’s 35 books that he had written in cipher. Only the cipher he wrote in Bitterblue does not know. While Bitterblue, Giddion, Saf, katsa, Hava, and Holt are in Leck’s rooms, Holt’s starts destroying leck’s bed frame.

When Bitterblue goes to her librarian and asks him to cipher Leck’s writings she finds out that he actually doesn’t know the cipher that well, but will crack it anyway he can. Bitterblue also learns that the librarian was actually able to fight off Leck’s Grace, while no one else could. Later that night when Saf and Bitterblue are talking Bitterblue learns that Saf is no longer mad at her, he is almost the way he was before he knew who she was.

As Bitterblue continues to explore her castle, in the middle of the night, she realizes that when she touches objects that she feels more grounded to the earth. As Bitterblue continues to read Leck’s journals everyone, including herself, notices that she seems to be really lost. So Helda makes a plan, that instead of reading all 35 journals, to find pieces that would actually help turn her kingdom around.

After making the plan Bitterblue gets news that Fox, Bitterblue’s servant/spy girl who is Graced with being fearless. Is actually Spook’s granddaughter, Spook is the well-known black market trader in all the kingdom and that Spook has Bitterblue’s crown. So Bitterblue has her followed to see if they might be able to get her crown back and Saf will not be charged with anything. After Thiel is hired back on Bitterblue learns that instead of Leck who did the torturing and experimenting with children and the Graced, he had his advisers do it. Who just happened to be Thiel and the others. She also learns that Thiel is the one that killed Runnemood.

After finding that out with Thiel Bitterblue starts to question everyone in her castle. She finds out that the two main people behind running the operation to have Bitterblue killed were the ones that made sure she got stuck with papers all day to sign so she couldn’t leave the towers, but that it didn’t seem to help because she left the towers anyways. But Thiel also tells Bitterblue that Leck kept certain experience for himself. Which one of them happened to be Hava’s mother the sculpture. That is when Bitterblue goes to talk to Hava and Hava begs her to not make her leave or get special treatment because that is not what Hava wanted. While talking to Hava, Hava notices that there are a lot of people standing in the court yard and she has no idea who they are. So she tells Bitterblue.

Bitterblue learns that the people she has seen are from a kingdom on the other side of the mountain, were the odd creature was from. Bitterblue finds out that the woman she seen in the painting in the library is actually lady fire, who can do what Leck did. Which was control people’s mind and she can also talk to you as well. Bitterblue learns that the kingdom is called Dell.

Bitterblue finds out that Leck had been there, and that is where the bridge designs in her kingdom came from too. Bitterblue also learns that he was called Eemkerr. But as Bitterblue is laying in her bed she realizes that Hava is actually her sister and says it out loud and realizes that it sounds really weird on her ears. As the days and months go by Bitterblue has a ministry built that is a place where people can go and tell their stories and they don’t have to tell who they are, but that away others can come in and read them, but know that they are not alone in their problems while Leck was alive too. I really liked the story because Bitterblue learns that things are not as good as what everyone tries to tell her it is.

My favorite scene is when Bitterblue spends the night with Saf that is when Bitterblue realizes that Saf’s Grace is giving good dreams. The one thing I really liked about Bitterblue is that even though she was queen she really cared about the people that lived in her city.

Buy it here:


Kindle Edition:

Also see: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Fire by Kristin Cashore


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