Series: Graceling Realm #3
Published by Dial on 1 May 2012
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Bitterblue is a young queen, and she is sometimes confused about what is going on around her. Her most trusted advisers are always keeping her busy, shuffling paper, signing things and only seeing very little of the city she lives in. One day, she decides to leave her castle at night, dressed as one of her own spies, she fins one of the city's many story rooms.
She meets two young men, who are observing her as she is observing them, and she is seeing a completely different side of her city, where the real citizens come out at night. Most of the stories she hears at night are about Leck, her deceased father and former King. Leck had a horrible grace, he could change people's thoughts and feelings, and make them do things they would have never done if they had been left to themselves. Bitterblue can remember very little of her childhood, but she remembers how her mother made her do arithmetic problems in her head to be able to lift the mental fog Leck had left her with.
As the story moves forward, Po, from Graceling, and incidentally her cousin, arrives at the castle with some of his friends in the resistance. Very soon, it is clear that the plot is complicated, and that everywhere, there is a lot more going on than what meets the eye. Bitterblue has to be very courageous, and she has to learn to trust the people around her, even when not all of them should be trusted. It is great to see Po again, and Katsa is soon present as well.
As Bitterblue gets to know her two friends better, Saf and Teddy share little things about themselves with her. She pretends to be working in the castle’s bakery, because there is no way she can let anyone know she is the Queen. What she learns from Saf and Teddy makes her realize that her advisers are lying to her about a lot of things, and that she needs to figure out the truth in order to be the best Queen she can to her people. When the truth about her identity comes out, one of her new friends feels betrayed and is very angry with her.
There is a lot of excitement all through the book, and Bitterblue is saved by her ability to fight more than once. There is a lot of heartbreak as well, when she finds out more both about her mother and what Leck really was up to during his more than thirty years of reign.
I recommend this book to all Graceling fans, it neatly ties up lose ends, all the while letting the readers get to know Bitterblue and all she has to deal with. It is difficult to write a thorough review without giving anything away, so this will stay short and sweet.