I don’t even know where to start with this review. I read Graceling when it first came out and have been waiting for this book for so long that now that I’ve read it, I’m not sure how to feel about it or what to think or what I should with my life now.

It’s a very complicated emotion I am feeling about this.

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.

It’s been a couple months since I read this back in January or February but I feel like it still hasn’t sunk in. And I find it difficult to separate my disappoints as a fan of the characters from what I thought about the story and the writing. Does that make sense? The characters, two in specific, did not end the way I was hoping/expecting them to and I was disappointed with that but the story and the writing I think was top notch.

I think.

The book had mystery and romance and a large diverse cast of characters that I enjoyed. But not much happened. You know? There was no epic battle, there wasn’t even really a specific enemy. What there was, was a kingdom falling apart at it’s seams and Queen trying to discover who she really is at the same time as trying to discover what her kingdom wanted to be.

I really loved Bitterblue in this. Her tenacity from Graceling is still there but it’s tempered with age and sorrow. Not that she’s terribly old but she’s not ten either.

I’m not sure I’m getting my feelings across here. I loved this book, really. But with everything that happened in it, I still get morose while thinking back on the characters and their truly heartbreaking stories and it’s difficult to gush and gush about it, you know. Other than Bitterblue and Saf my favourite character was definitely Death (pronounced to rhyme with teeth) who I hated at first but grew to love his dedication and sarcasm. Someone who is that dedicated to preserving history and books, no matter how painful, can have nothing but respect from me.

There was one part that I felt was completely unnecessary to the plot but very necessary for the reader and for bringing all three books together and I just loved seeing the conclusion there.

At the end of the story we’re left, I felt, not at an ending but at a beginning, a true beginning. The kingdom on it’s way to healing, the Queen on her way to being a great ruler, the characters on their way to healing and understanding. I was left feeling hopeful but also slightly disappointed. Not with the writing or anything like that. But because of the ending, this book felt more like the beginning of a series instead of the end. It felt like beginning of Bitterblue’s story, not the conclusion of an over-arching plot.

Maybe I’m just being greedy though? The ending is very open. And while I like to think everything turns out the way I want it to for certain characters, especially in a romantic sense, I would really love to see it.

Overall though, I am happy with this conclusion to the story.

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