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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-04-02
- Reviewer: Staff
When last seen, Bitterblue had been crowned queen of Monsea, after Katsa, the heroine of Graceling, killed her father, King Leck. (He had it coming.) Eight years have passed; Bitterblue, now 18, is in power, even as her counselors have attempted to sweep the wretched perversity of Leck’s reign under the rug. Bitterblue objects—not only because she thinks she needs to understand that history in order to lead but because she feels constrained by busy work that keeps her trapped in the castle. Spirited and frustrated, she dons a disguise, sneaks out, and quickly befriends a printer and a handsome thief. Complications, naturally, ensue. Her romance and growth into the role of queen are among the best parts of this sprawling story, which brings forward (but does not entirely resolve) plot strands from both Graceling and Fire. There are many pleasures—fans will welcome the return of Katsa and her lover, Po; Bitterblue’s court includes Death (rhymes with teeth), a dour librarian graced with the ability to read fast and remember every word. Once the narrative shifts from Bitterblue’s clandestine adventures in the city to her convalescence inside the castle, the story loses some steam, even as the sick nature of Leck’s abuses are unearthed. Nonetheless, devotees of the earlier books and fans of Megan Whalen Turner’s intricate political fantasies will relish this novel of palace intrigue. Ages 14–up. Agent: Faye Bender, Faye Bender Literary Agency. (May)