The Bitter Kingdom
By: Rae Carson
Read by: Jennifer Ikeda and Luis Moreno
Series: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (review), The Crown of Embers
Audio Review: I've listened to the entire series on audio and I specifically waited for the audio of the final book in the series because I love it so much. Jennifer Ikeda does such a great job of channeling Elisa and the other characters. I was pleasantly surprised by Luis Moreno as Hector. I expect that other listeners will agree with me that at first Moreno's voice seems overly clipped and precise. But, it didn't take long before I was enthralled with his narration and really wished there was more of Hector's perspective. If you have some extra audible credits lying around, I'd highly recommend this entire series on audio.
Book Review: I must admit that I didn't immediately take to this series. I enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns and really liked The Crown of Embers. But, I LOVED The Bitter Kingdom. The final installment in the trilogy begins almost immediately after the end of The Crown of Embers. One of the reasons this series is a success is the fantastic growth of Elisa. She is introspective, clever, and relatable. In many ways, she reminds me of Miri (Palace of Stone) with her fierce negotiating and diplomatic skills. These two are leading a crop of YA heroines that are fighters, but recognize that violence is only necessary as a last resort.
Besides Elisa, there are a couple other characters that really stand out: Hector and Storm. Hector's point of view is sprinkled in here and there as Elisa and her friends come to rescue him. It really is a sweet addition that made their growth as a couple all the more satisfying. And their romance is satisfying, trust me. I don't know that I've been so invested in a couple since Han and Raisa (The Crimson Crown).
Storm is another example of a well-developed secondary character. I feel like I could go on and on about the layers of dimension that he added to the story. He's a study in loyalty, truth, and emotion. All because you just aren't quite sure what his intentions are. At least I wasn't.
Overall, The Bitter Kingdom is a near-perfect conclusion to the series. This is one that I'll definitely be re-reading in the future. It's probably best suited for slightly older teens (14+) for some sexual content. There isn't anything explicit, but a lot of innuendo and some pretty steamy stuff near the end. There isn't any questionable language, but a moderate amount of violence.