(Graceling Realm: Bk. 3). 13 CDs. 16:33 hrs. Listening Library. Jan. 2017. $65. ISBN 9781524774943. digital download.
Gr 8 Up—Eight years after the death of her despotic father, King Leck, 18-year-old Queen Bitterblue is still struggling to bring healing and peace to her people of Monsea. Leck was a Graceling—able to make everyone forget their pain—allowing him to control and torture all Monseans. Helped by her ever-loyal cousin Prince Po and Graceling Katsa, Bitterblue is beginning to ask more questions about how her country is run than her advisers and judges would like. Befriending rebel truthseekers such as Teddy and Graceling Sapphire puts Bitterblue in tremendous danger as she hunts for answers to why her citizens are not being taught to read and how those looking for reparations from Leck's crimes seem to be systematically killed. Bitterblue herself is attacked several times in an attempt to stop her inquiries. The dramatic unveiling of who is behind all the violence finally gives Bitterblue a sad but honest understanding of her reign. A romance simmers between Saph and Bitterblue, but at the heart of this novel is how atrocities of the past can be handled with care and compassion in the future. Xanthe Elbrick's narration is powerful, with each major character having a distinct and memorable voice. This high fantasy is a masterly weaving of adventure, mystery, and romance.
VERDICT Highly recommended for fantasy fans. ["The believable maturation of Bitterblue's character is worthy of praise": SLJ 5/12 review of the Dial book.]

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