Bitterblue Kristin Cashore Book Review

Friends, I feel like I’ve been waiting FOREVER for Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. I had all these expectations built up in my mind. Partly because I love Fire and Graceling so much, I expected that same all consuming love for Bitterblue. While Bitterblue was a good read, it’s not exactly up to par with the standards set by Graceling and Fire.

Bitterblue Kristin Cashore Book Cover


After Leck’s reign of terror, it seems as though Monsea is waking up from a long spell. Bitterblue, the queen, has so much on her plate – from figuring out the secrets of what Leck did to making reparations and oh, yeah SERVING ON A REBELLIOUS COUNCIL with Katsa and Po. In order to better understand her people, Bitterblue sneaks out to storehouses at night where she comes across Teddy and Saf — striking a friendship with the two. Y’all Kristin Cashore’s book is definitely more politically oriented as opposed to the previous two action oriented books.

Honestly, I felt like the characterization in Bitterblue was all over the place. Bitterblue, herself, was drawn quite well, with strength and vulnerability. I thought it was fascinating to read about her unraveling of a painful past. And I was invested in her relationships. Her advisors, on the other hand, who play a pretty large role basically annoy me, because we read SO MUCH about them and there’s a lot of build up to finding out the bad things they did, that eventually I sort of lost interest and just wanted the book to get to the point already. I did really like the characters of Teddy and Saf, who I mentioned earlier, but felt like we didn’t get very much of either.

What I did LOVE about Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore was the culmination of the previous two books and seeing how Fire and the Dells connected with Katsa, Po, Bitterblue and the Seven Kingdoms. I may have fist pumped a little to see my old favorites come back. And honestly, the connections, to me, never really felt awkward or out of place. I thought Cashore did a fine job bridging the three books.

However, what prevented me from loving Bitterblue with the fire of a thousand suns was the romance. And I am PROBS missing the point, I get that, since these books aren’t about the romance mainly. BUT there’s all this tension, all this build up, this INVESTMENT – and for what? You guys there is definitely not a huge pay out. I felt lead on at the end of Bitterblue, lead to believe the romance would culminate into something more. And I am being purposefully vague, but it was a huge let down.

Straight up, it sucks not to fall head over heels in love with a hugely anticipated book and to just be in LIKE with it. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore is not the stellar conclusion I wanted, unfortunately. The politics and the characterization of Queen Bitterblue are fabulous, but overall, I found the book wanting.

Disclosure: Received for review.

Other reviews of Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore:

Literary Exploration
Debbie’s World Of Books
The Ravenous Reader

Series Order:

Graceling (Book One)
Fire (Book Two)
Bitterblue (Book Three)

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Well, that sucks. :\

  2. So glad I am not the only one. SO SO GLAD.

  3. Sorry to hear you didn’t love this one as much as you expected, April. I’m still excited to read it because like you said, it feels like we’ve been waiting for so long for this to be released. But now I’m a bit worried that I won’t love it as much as Graceling and Fire. Oh well, I should probably lower my expectations then.

  4. Yeah, my expectations are being adjusted as well. I like Graceling and LOVE Fire, so it’s not too much of a comedown for me to like Bitterblue, but with Fire, I thought the series was getting better with each book. I am still really excited about seeing how the world of Fire and the Dells is brought together with the world and characters from Graceling, so the book’s worth reading to me just for that.

    • Well, who knows, TG, maybe you will love Bitterblue.

      I mean, there’s a lot of complexity to the book, which is awesome. And the coming together of the two worlds and seeing previous characters is kind of a highlight for me.

  5. I’m not expecting to love this book and for a long time I wasn’t even planning to read it because I didn’t want to buy it. Now I’m on the waiting list at the library. I’m sorry it disappointed you. I don’t mind books with political intrigue (loved Grave Mercy) but I do like action especially since the first two books had action. That’s too bad about the romance too. It is sad when the final book in a series doesn’t live up to expectations. Thanks for sharing your review! Now I’m really glad I didn’t preorder Bitterblue.

  6. Aw! I’m sad to hear that it wasn’t as good as the first two, but OMG I can’t wait to read it! Great review.

  7. This is actually the first review I’ve seen of Bitterblue, and although I’m sorry your didn’t love it (which I totally get because I am majorly invested in this book due to my love of Fire and Graceling), I’m still anxious to read it. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for this book!

  8. Aww, I’m sorry to hear this. I was already hesitant about Bitterblue because I didn’t love Fire. Now I may just be a little more so. (Really, the romance? :()

  9. I’m so bummed that people aren’t LOVING Bitterblue. I’m like you: Bitterblue was (still is, to be honest) one of my most anticipated reads of the year, so it gives me EPIC sad face that the series kind of closes on a shaky, just ok note. Especially since it’s almost 600 pages long! I’m still definitely going to read it, and hopefully I’ll still enjoy it, but dude, it sucks that you didn’t love it 🙁

    • Well, look at it this way, maybe you will still enjoy it because some parts are genuinely good – namely the politics and Bitterblue figuring out how to be the best kind of queen.

      BUT as a fellow fan of the swoons, I think you’ll be disappointed on that level.

  10. Sad you didn’t love this one! I totally get what you mean about the romance. The outcome really grew on my. I just loved the way Bitterblue bridged Graceling and Fire. Have you read Cinda William’s Chima’s Seven Realms books? I think you’d love them!

    • Oh my gosh, I haven’t read them yet, but I really want to because they seem right up my alley.

      I am glad to hear that you liked Bitterblue and like you, I loved the way the stories were bridged.

  11. Aww. I’m really sad that Bitterblue doesn’t seem to be as good as the previous ones. I’ll probably still read it though.

  12. OF COURSE I’ll be reading this (thanks to you), but I do appreciate the heads up on the not so much romance.

  13. Aw, it always sucks when you really want a book to be good and it…isn’t. :(The romance sounds like SUCH A LET DOWN, I hate it when there’s all this build up and the pay off is lackluster. I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about this book so you aren’t the only one.

  14. Tara @ Hobbitsies says

    OKAY Here’s a question for you. If I read Graceling and Fire and love both, will I feel unfulfilled if I don’t read Bitterblue? Will Graceling and Fire stand on their own and I’ll read and love and be happy? Or will I have to read Bitterblue? Because if it’s disappointing and blah, I don’t know that I want to get into this series and have to read the blah ending. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE, APRIL!? hahaha <3

    • I think they stand well enough on their own, but honestly once you read Graceling and Fire, you will want to read Bitterblue. It’s not a complete disappointment, just I did not love how the romance played out.

  15. I felt the same way about the romance. Blah.

  16. April – I totally agree with you about the romance. I just finished Bitterblue, and I’m feeling a little bummed. I thought it was a great finish to the series, BUT the romance was a dud. I did, however, think the story line was one of the strongest out of the series, though. So much drama and angst!

    Great review!

  17. You aren’t the only person I’ve seen that wasn’t crazy about this book. I’m still excited to read it and Fire though.

  18. I felt the same about the romance. Somehow, I never really got attached to Saf… *sighs*

  19. Ahh! I’ve been waiting AGES for this book! I finally have it and I’m dying to finish it.

    I’ve heard quite a few people who have felt let down by this book in comparison to Graceling and Fire (both of which I adored). I’m waiting til I’ve finished before I pass judgement.

  20. I’m so sorry you didn’t love this one. I really hope I do. I’ve been waiting for this book for so long and I just don’t want to be disappointed, lol. I guess we’ll see when I finally get around to reading it.

  21. Duuuude, I want action. I mean swords, daggers, bows/arrows, and sexytimes. I won’t lie. I’ve waited for all of the above. Sigh. Politics, really?

    Still, I will read this book and I will most likely love it. Will I love it as much as the first two? I just don’t know. I’ve been pulling for some of these characters pretty doggone hard for years now. And I’ve been waiting for some…stuff. Ya know? But still, I’m pumped about it. I’m glad to see that the three books will be tied together nicely because I was a little bit worried about that.

    I don’t know, though, April. I mean, I already had made up my mind to re-read Graceling and Fire both before reading Bitterblue so I’m not rushing out to buy it or anything just yet for that reason. (I still don’t even own Fire. Loser.) I still really want to read it. Doggone chunkster that it is.

    • I like politics, but I will grant you that the action is utterly essential.

      I’m not sure if you’ve read Bitterblue yet, but I hope you did love it. I have also been pulling for a few of the characters and while it sucked to not get everything I wanted, I did like how some parts played out. The books do come together in a good way.

      Tis a big chunkster, but chunksters are great from time to time.

  22. I’ve actually got this sat right next to me because it’s my current read!

    I think I feel the same as you – I wanted to love it, but I just kind of… like it instead. I’m about a third of the way through, maybe a bit more, but I don’t really feel invested. It’s just Bitterblue sat around musing so far.

  23. That’s super disappointing, as the romance is really the reason I read the books as well. I’ve been hearing similar complaints on many blogs, which is too bad.

  24. That’s disappointing, especially about the romance. Honestly, the romance and how it is handled is a huge factor in how much I love any book, ever. I’m still excited for Bitterblue, but I won’t go into it with super high expectations.

  25. I was really worried about that happening with this novel. It’s really frustrating when a book doesn’t live up to expectations. I’m still really looking forward to reading it myself. This world is just so unique!

  26. I’m so excited to read this one! But my copy is not yet available here.. pfft.

  27. I do agree with you; it wasn’t as good as the previous books :\ But I still did love it. I loved that we got more of Po and Katsa; although it made me sad most of the time 🙁 Loved it still, though ;p I was very disappointed in the romance. Or lack of romance. There was a tiny bit, and I did love that. But to me there was way too little and it didn’t end good. Didn’t like that :\ Love your review of this book. I need more books by Kristin. Hopefully another Po/Katsa book (A) But I would be happy no matter who the book is about 🙂

    • I loved getting more of Po and Katsa as well, they are such strong, wonderful characters who really resonated with me.

      I was SO disappointed in the romancing as well and like you I thought it was way too little and I was not satisfied with how it ended. I can’t wait for Kristin to come out with more books, ha ha.

  28. I need to get this trilogy started >__< The cover for Bitterblue is drop dead gorgeous , but I am a little affraid when you say that there is a LOT of romance in this one.

  29. Thanks for such a great review! I live under a rock and am probably the only person left who hasn’t read this trilogy. I really, really want to! Might have to justify a book splurge 🙂

  30. Rebecca Hipworth says

    I really want to read this 🙂

  31. I have so been looking forward to reading this book. I am sorry you didn’t like parts, that can be hard when you loved the other books so much. I do look forward to seeing how the three tie together, and I am glad that you mentioned that in your review, because that was one thing I have been waiting for with this novel. Great review. Thank you!

  32. Everyone is so excited for this one! I’m hoping it lives up to my expectations 🙂

  33. Jennifer Vu says

    That’s so disappointing since I’ve been looking forward to this one! And I’ve been thinking that it will be a stunning conclusion to the series!
    Hopefully, it won’t disappoint me 🙂

  34. I’ll be honest. I was so afraid of spoiling myself and giving myself preconceived notions about Bitterblue so I just skimmed through your review but still I could see that Bitterblue quite fell short to your taste. I hope that it won’t disappoint me as I’ve been waiting for this final installment for so long. Sigh. Thank you for your honest review. 🙂

  35. This is really disappointing, but I guess my hopes weren’t as high as other peoples. Most people loved Fire but I didn’t. So while I was excited about Bitterblue, I was also skeptical.

    The romance you mentioned (and lack of payoff) will really annoy me I think. I could look past the political focus (not too crazy about that), but the hints of romance without a payoff might be a deal breaker for me. I’m really into romance in books!

  36. Bummer that it wasn’t amazing for you! I still am excited to read it and I just love, love, love the cover! Thanks for the review! 🙂

  37. Genevieve says

    This is probably the first review that I’ve heard that wasn’t amazing. I’m kind of disappointed that you didn’t love it. I hope that it’s good! I’ve been looking forward to this book since ’08! Granted, we did get Fire in between but I really wanted to know what happened with Bitterblue. Either way, I still want to read it. : )

  38. Cris Evert says

    Aww, I’ve been waiting for Bitterblue for a long time, and it sucks to hear that it’s not as good as expected, especially since the first two books were amazing.

  39. stacie puett says

    lets hope that i like this book as much as the others. sorry you were not happy with it.

  40. I’m used to sequels not being as good as first books in a series, but I still hope it’s good enough.

  41. This makes me so saaaad. I hope I love it. :/

  42. The wait for Bitterblue sure was a long one, that’s for sure. It’s sad when a series end, even sadder when the conclusion doesn’t live up to your great expectations. Sad to hear.

  43. i’m so excited to read bitterblue 🙂

  44. I loved this one just as much as the other two, but in a different way– like you said, there’s less action, more politics, but I found it all utterly engrossing. Still I’m glad you at least liked it! I know some people were completely disappointed with it.

  45. I hope to get around to reading this book soon 😀

  46. I’m sorry that you didn’t quite like the book even though I’ve heard so much buzz about it for weeks! The previous 2 books sound better from your reviews. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion. 🙂

  47. I just read this book and I sadly felt the same way about this book that you did. The romance didn’t work for me either but the writing was simply amazing!

  48. I’ve been holding off reading this review until I’d written my own, and I find it funny that what you disliked about the books was one of my favourites aspects of it (as heartwrenching and disappointing as it was while reading).


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