'Bitterblue' is about, well, Bitterblue - the 17-18 year old queen of a nation broken by her father. She's surrounded by papers, advisors, lords, secrets and other queenly stuff. In other words, she's stressed and bored out of her mind. So, naturally, she sneaks out of the castle one night and builds a life for herself as Sparks, the daughter of a royal baker. She meets, in her city, a Graced thief and a young printer, both of which hold their own secrets, and provide opportunity for romancing. Meanwhile, in the castle, Bitterblue is encountering betrayal, horrifying stories, epiphanies, and other things left behind by her father. Added to the stress of rebuilding her country.
This book was very well written. It's a good balance between sweet, humorous, loving, terrifying, bloody, and simply sad. It may have even surpassed 'Graceling' in that respect, and everyone knows it's hard to make a good sequel to a good book. The characters are well-illustrated, with depth and feeling and motivations. Their interactions are fun to watch (well, read) and their betrayals and deaths are felt deeply. The only thing I regret about the characters is that so many were... depressed. Bitterblue herself was pushy, stubborn, and didn't believe in herself - wonderful, complex character flaws. Each character had their web of lies, and their good and bad sides.
The plot, I won't say too much about, but I think it was a little bit rambling at times. There were so many times that Bitterblue sat down to do the same thing, or sent someone else to search for the same thing that it got a bit repetitive at times.
And, before I give away too many spoilers, I hereby dub this book a 4.5 - a meringue. Fluffy and sweet, but also hard and brittle - full of beautiful contrasts. A little too much air and not enough substance.