Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Since the death of her parents eight years ago, Bitterblue has been the Queen of Monsea. Buried in paperwork, she longs to see more of her city and hear stories from local taverns. But following the reign of her evil father Leck, Bitterblue must deal with the aftermath of his mind control over the entire realm. With everyone around her, including her closest advisors, acting a bit crazy at times, Bitterblue decides to get to the truth behind what all her father did during his reign. But someone is desperate to keep the secrets hidden and will even murder to keep the past buried.
Bitterblue is an extremely likeable young woman, with a good heart eager to make her country whole again. Though, she never quite feels like a queen – as she doesn’t command enough authority or assertion. She’s meek and humble – which is great for a storybook character but not believable as queen. I enjoyed her friendship with the two thieves she meets while exploring the city on her own and in disguise. Though the romance with Saph never comes close to the level of the main characters in Graceling and Fire. Which worked here. There was too much conspiracy, danger and confusion going on for her to form an actual relationship with someone like Saph and have it be rational. Bitterblue puts her country and its people above everything, even her happiness at times.
Fire (book 2) seems to stand apart a bit and was somewhat of a prequel to Graceling (book 1). And Bitterblue (book 3) is a direct sequel to Graceling. It may seem confusing to those that haven’t read them! Yet by the end of Bitterblue the storyline of Fire is woven in wonderfully. This YA fantasy is an epic adventure with complex codes, mystery, and suspense. The colorful characters and fast-paced story was thoroughly enjoyable and captivating. Bitterblue is a fantastic conclusion to an inspired trilogy.