by Kriston Cashore
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.
I was graciously lent this arc copy, which I have been dying to read. But I must say I was left unsatisfied. It just took too many pages for Bitterblue to learn what she must and for them to finally locate and befriend the Dellians -- Lady Fire. And I had read the author's blog, which she says she's so happy about the cover "feeling like Bitterblue" and the significance of the keys. So I was expecting some grandness to the keys. Well, guess, what? They unlock a mystery. Really? And the way Bitterblue comes to own them was sort of anticlimactic for me.
And I like my endings all tidied up, which this story did not give. Yes, very unsatisfied indeed.