Not my favorite of the Graceling books, but I still love Cashore's writing and more irreverent take on the fantasy genre. She is also meticulous in weaving various characters and plot threads together; everything (seemingly miraculously, but obviously due to great editing and outlining) comes together in an unanticipated swoop at the end. My biggest issue with Bitterblue is its meandering pace and lack of action. Although there are several twists in the story, not much actually happens; we spend most of the book stuck in a castle confused with Bitterblue. I also could have done without the entire crown-theft plot line. In my opinion, it was unnecessary to the novel's larger goals and plain boring. While the actual plot content may have faltered occasionally, I still rate this book highly because Cashore presented its themes of lies and truth, hierarchies of power, and recovery from mental illness very well. I always appreciate when authors make some effort to write a book that transcends a simple narrative and provides commentary on certain facets of life itself. Cashore does this brilliantly, and it is especially appreciated in the fantasy genre, where authors often neglect doing so.