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.In my mind Kristin Cashore can do no wrong. So I think it is unsurprising when I say this is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I enjoyed it from front to back, and even though it was a long time coming it was totally worth the wait! Bitterblue is definitely different from Fire and Graceling, though. Where Fire and Katsa are active participants in the book, fighting for a place, Bitterblue has been handed a place she doesn’t know what to do with. The book is much more in Bitterblue’s head than Fire and Graceling were, and there is much less action, and when there is it mostly happens off-page. There is much more concentration on puzzles and ciphers, and untangling all the threads of plot and intrigue. It’s a totally different concept from the last two books, and yet totally absorbing and interesting in its own way. I didn’t mind that there was less action because Bitterblue’s struggle with herself and finding her way to become the person she wants to be was fascinating and more than active enough to keep me engaged. Bitterblue is complicated and her life is complicated, and that shows throughout the book in her actions. Even the plot of the book is complicated, and I love how it’s not wrapped up in a neat little bow at the end, showing that life is messy and sometimes things just can’t be made to work out.