Bitterblue is queen of Monsea. She is daughter to late queen Ashen and king Leck. Bitterblue lives in a world where some people have two different colored eyes. These people are called gracelings.
Gracelings have graces or talents that can be as simple as climbing trees, but some can be as complex as shapeshifting.Bitterblue was made queen at age ten after her father died. Bitterblue’s father, Leck, was graced with telling people lies they believe. Leck killed Ashen after she and Bitterblue escaped the castle to get away from him. He put Monsea under his influence for many years, making the people do horrible things. Katsa, Bitterblue’s friend, graced with surviving, murdered Leck.Now Bitterblue is trying to help Monsea recover from Leck’s reign. To understand how to help her kingdom heal she must know more about her kingdom.
Her advisors, Theil, Darby, Rood, and Runnemood were Leck’s advisors when he ruled. They are too traumatized to speak of the things Leck did.So, Bitterblue snuck out at night, undercover, into her city to story rooms that tell stories about Katsa, Leck, and fictional places with colorful people and animals. Leck told Bitterblue stories just like that, with strange animals in even stranger colors.Her friend Po and Giddon arrive at her castle. They say that Katsa will come soon.
Po is graced with mind reading, but mind readers are feared, so he pretends his grace is fighting. Po is also blind, but his grace allows him to sense everything around him. Only few people know about his true grace, including Katsa, Bitterblue, and Po’s mother.In the castle, she goes to the court to meet with a Lord named Danzohl. He wishes to rule a small area in Mosea.
Bitterblue doesn’t want to let him rule because he overtaxed people. Theil is there and tells her to sign and let him have the land just so he can leave. Danzohl also asks her to marry him. Bitterblue says no. Then Danzohl knocks Theil out and grabs Bitterblue. He is trying to kidnap her. In her mind Bitterblue is screaming Po’s name, hoping he can hear her. Danzohl is just about to jump out the window, when Bitterblue twists around grabs her knife she always keeps in her boot and stabs him.
Danzohl dies and Po bursts in the room with a couple other people. Bitterblue vomits.Bitterblue is told by Po that there was a graceling shapeshifter helping Danzohl get away with Bitterblue.In the story rooms Bitterblue meets two people, Teddy and Saf. Teddy has no grace just like Bitterblue, but Saf has a grace that he hasn’t figured out yet. When Teddy asks for Bitterblue’s name, she says he may call her whatever he likes. He called her Sparks.When Bitterblue is coming back from the story rooms she sees two figures stealing the gargoyles from her castle wall.
She recognizes the figures as Saf and Teddy. She wonders why he would steal something like that.One night in the story rooms Teddy is stabbed.
Saf, with the help of Bitterblue, gets him out of there. Saf tells Bitterblue to go to a healer that he knows. But Bitterblue knows enough that an average healer couldn’t help Teddy. So she runs to her graced healer, Madlen. As she runs, Bitterblue wonders if the knife was meant for her.
But how could they know who she was?The whole night Madlen is cutting and stitching Teddy. Saf is angry at Bitterblue for not getting the healer he wanted, but thanked Bitterblue for getting Madlen because no ordinary person could heal a wound like Teddy’s. Saf then asked how Bitterblue knew Madlen. Bitterblue told Saf she lives in the castle.
Saf and Bitterblue then play a game. Bitterblue told three truths and Saf told three truths. Bitterblue, being the queen, had to lie.
Saf came from a Lienid ship after his parents put him there to protect him from Leck. The king’s use the gracelings to do their bidding, and Saf being a graceling would have been used. He said that his sister had then searched all over to find him. Bitterblue told Saf that she lives in the castle with her mother. Bitterblue asks Saf why he stole the gargoyles.
He told her that he steals things back that Leck stole.One day, Katsa, Raffin, and Bann visit her. They are her friends from a group called the council, that include Po, Giddon, and her lady servant Helda. The council is a group that overthrows the unfair monarch’s.Her friends hold a council meeting in the library. To get there they go through Katsa’s room and press a tile in her bathroom with a very realistic and vibrant bug. It opens up a secret passageway that leads to the library.
The other end of the passage is covered in a tapestry of a woman in a white coat with strange hair that is red and pink and gold, all at once. It looks like someone from Leck’s wild stories.There they tell Bitterblue that the council has overthrown king Drowden. They are soon going to overthrow King Thigpen of Estill for over taxing and starving the people. They said there might be a war.
Bitterblue insists they use Bitterblue city as their base. They refuse, saying she already has so much on her hands. But she keeps insisting so they accept.
Bitterblue had a hard time focusing on all the paperwork her advisors gave her. Her mind wandered to Saf and Teddy and the story rooms. Madlen keeps checking up on Teddy and soon says he will live.
When Teddy is under the medicine he says strange things. One time he told Bitterblue that his parents printing shop had burned down four times.When Bitterblue is walking out of the castle to visit Saf and Teddy she gets lost in some sort of maze. A guard finds her and leads out telling her that many people get stuck in Leck’s maze.Bitterblue is now curious and looks at a map of her castle and discovers that Leck built a maze around his rooms.One night Bitterblue finds Saf and he tells her that someone is after him and they must run.
They run over rooftops and when they are safe Saf sits Bitterblue down on the rooftop. She desperately asks who was chasing him. Reluctantly, he tells her that there are a group of people who call themselves the truth seekers and they try to bring back the items Leck has stolen.
He says that Teddy, Bren (Saf’s sister), Tilda (Teddy’s sister), and himself are part of the truth seekers. Saf gives Bitterblue a list of many names and things that were stolen. Many of the stolen items are girls, but others were animals and books. Saf tells her that he is trying to recover these items and give them back to their rightful owners. But some people are trying to prevent this and are still voluntarily doing the work of Leck.
Saf tells her that there are also people that worked for Leck and stole things for him. Those are the people that burned Teddy’s printing shop down.After that night Bitterblue realizes that she has feelings for Saf.Po tells Bitterblue that the graceling that is graced with shapeshifting is hiding in her castle. Her name is Hava.
Hava is Holt’s niece. Holt is Bitterblue’s graceling guard, graced with strength. Hava hides in Bitterblue’s art gallery most of the time. The art gallery is filled with a lot of work made by Hava’s mother, Bellamew. Bellamew was killed by Leck.In Bitterblue’s spare time she goes down to the library to do her paperwork and just to get out of her office. There she learns that her librarian, Death (pronounced Deeth) who is graced with remembering whatever he reads, is rewriting books that Leck had burned. Some of the books Leck had burned were on Saf’s list.
While talking with Death she learns that her advisors worked as healers for Leck.Bitterblue is now having Death bring her the books he has rewritten that Leck burned down. She reads them and relizes that most of them are old traditions of Monsea before Leck ruled. One of those books is called ‘kissing traditions of monsea’ which she remembers was on Saf’s list.
She reads the book and discovers that there is a holiday where people go around kissing everybody.Po and Helda realize that Bitterblue is going out at night. They don’t stop her, though.Bitterblue goes down to Teddy’s printing shop. When she goes in there are many people in there with gold and silver glitter around their eyes. She realizes that it is the holiday where people kiss each other.
Someone kisses her on the lips. She goes to find Teddy. He is lying in bed. He kisses her too.
Then Saf appears and he kisses her in a very un holiday like manner. She kisses him back. Soon she remembers that she is the queen and not ‘Sparks’. She is reminded of Po and how he has built friendships around his lies, to protect his grace. Is she no better? She stops and Saf asks what’s wrong but Bitterblue just runs back to the castle.Bitterblue does not go back to visit Teddy and Saf. Instead she starts going down to the library.
She gets to know her staff a little better and they become more comfortable with her.With more time Bitterblue discovers that her mother’s embroidered sheets are actually ciphers. Bitterblue breaks the cipher and reads them. Most of them are about Leck. About how she needed to escape from him with Bitterblue.
She is being drowned in more and more paperwork, produced by her advisors.One dreadful day at her desk in a desperate hope to escape all the paperwork, Bitterblue walks down to go the court to see if there is a trial going on that she could watch.When she gets there, she asks her judges to catch her up.
They tell her that a man was accused of murdering Ivan, the crazy engineer who once built the amazing bridges in Bitterblue city, but is now mad and playing tricks on people and building buildings that are unstable and fall on people.Then she sees Saf. He is bruised and bloody. A guard holds him back.
Bitterblue turns to leave, but Saf recognizes her and sneers.Her judges tell her that he claims to have been star gazing with his friend when the crime happened, but would not reveal who he was with. Bitterblue realized how loyal Saf was to his friends.
Bitterblue was filled with guilt.She stands up and is about to tell them that she was with Saf that night, and then Po burst in. His grace helps him understand the situation. Po then pretends that he was with Saf that night.
Saf, confused, goes along with it. The judges are also confused, but Po convinces them. They then arrest the witness.
Afterwards, Bitterblue tells Po to bring Saf to her rooms. Po brings him and stays in Bitterblue’s sitting room waiting for Bitterblue and Saf to be done. Bitterblue tries to apologize but Saf is so angry at Bitterblue. He does not forgive her. Bitterblue lets Saf leave and turns to see the crown is gone. Saf has taken it.
Bitterblue yells for Po and he chases after Saf.He comes back soaked and shivering. He does not come back with the crown. Bitterblue sends him to Madlen.Bitterblue goes down to Teddy’s printing shop to see Saf and try to apologize and get the crown back. Teddy is not mad at her, nor is Tilda and Bren.
But Saf is beyond mad. Teddy tells her that Saf has given the crown to someone in the black market named Spook. She tries apologizing to Saf again and telling him that by stealing the crown he is sentenced with treason. And by stealing he only made her worried about him and not mad.Bitterblue leaves the shop and is attacked. It happens too fast for her to recognize the attacker. Bitterblue falls on the knife she keeps on her arm.
It stabs her shoulder. She falls on her arm and it feels like it is broken. Saf runs out to save her and gets her back to the castle.Her Monsean Guard was not able to capture or recognize her attackers. Bitterblue’s arm is broken and is put in a cast.
Bitterblue discovers that her advisor, Runnemood, is behind the attacks and that he paid people to attack Bitterblue. He then ran off. She also discovers that Theil was last seen with Runnemood but didn’t stop him. She feels she can’t trust Theil so she lets him go.
Bitterblue decides that she wants to see Leck’s rooms. She remembers that there is a staircase in her room that leads to Leck’s rooms. She, Helda, and her trusted servant Fox gather to open it but it is locked. Fox surprisingly owns lock picks. She picks the lock and tries to open the door. It is boarded up sadly.Bitterblue, Fox, and Helda navigate through Leck’s maze. They pick the lock and enter his room.
It is filled with statues that bitterblue recognizes as Bellamew’s. Leck had poured paint over them in obvious attempt to ruin them. As Bitterblue looked around she was disappointed.
There were only ruined statues and a bed frame in the corner. But then she saw a tapestry of a colorful beast like in Leck’s stories. Then she realized that all those strange pieces of art, like the lady with the strange hair, had led to a secret passage.
Bitterblue decided she would come back later and explore. She was not sure if she trusted Fox.In the art gallery while visiting Hava she is told by Hava that she doesn’t actually shapeshift but Bitterblue’s perception is changed. Bitterblue gets to know Hava and then makes her a spy for Bitterblue.Po finally tells Giddon his grace. Giddon punches Po but they eventually make up. Katsa leaves to explore a passageway to Eastill, and Raffin and Po leave for some business with the council.
Bitterblue’s Guard has not found Runnemood. Then her captain of the Guard runs off to. Katsa then comes back from the underground passage. With her she carries a very oddly colored rat. It looks like something out of Leck’s stories. Katsa tells her that it had the same kind of powers Leck had, where it mesmerized her and then attacked. This makes Bitterblue wonder if Leck’s stories are not just made up. Katsa wants to go back to the passage to explore further.
Bitterblue is called to the stables. She sees Runnemood’s dead body. Giddon tells her that it was found in the river and Madlen confirmed that he drowned. There were also a bunch of bones found in the river.Saf is now working at the castle so that he can be monitored.
Bitterblue sends him and Madlen to dive and retrieve the bones so they can be studied. Madlen discovers that they are human bones.Saf pickpocketed Fox’s pocket and found keys. He gave them to Bitterblue. Bitterblue wonders why she has keys that unlock Leck room.
Bitterblue goes back to Leck’s room with Giddon, Hava, Holt, Bann, and Helda. She goes through the tapestry and unlocks the door with one of the keys and finds a passage way. There she finds another tapestry, behind are thirty-five books. She has Bann go all the way down to the end of the stair case. He tells her it leads to part of her city. Bitterblue and Giddon get all the books brought to her room.
In the morning she tries to read them but they are in a cipher. No matter what she tries she can not break it. Bitterblue brings it down to Death to see if he can break it.Bitterblue again tries to apologize and Saf is not mad at her anymore. She has him hide away in a tiny place on winged bridge. That way he can’t be attacked by the truthseekers enemy’s and so he can’t be sentenced with treason.Death finds a book that reveals that Leck’s ciphered books are actually written in another language, called Dellian.
Death then breaks the cipher. He discovers the the book are journals of Leck and what he did. Death translates the books every day little bits at a time. Bitterblue reads them but they are too much for her, so Death summarizes the important parts with less detail so Bitterblue can stomach them.Through the journals Bitterblue learns that Leck’s advisors, not Leck, did the torturing and experiments with the graced, little girls, and the animals. She also learned that he had “hospitals” where he performed the experiments. That is where the bones from the river came from.
Bitterblue finds out that Theil is hurting himself so she re-hires him to try to see if that helps.When Death translates a couple of the journals, Bitterblue has Bren and Tilda make leather molds of some of the letters of the Dellian alphabet, so they can print out the books.Bitterblue then sees all of her advisors dump bones from Leck’s “hospital” into the river. When they leave they have a small sack with something in it. Something drops out of it and Bitterblue picks it up as they leave. It is a leather mold of a Dellian letter.
Theil runs out of the castle one night and Bitterblue follows. He goes up the winged bridge. There Bitterblue finds him almost over the railing. He tells Bitterblue he must do it. He says he killed Runnemood to make him stop.
Theil dumped the bones in the river to try to forget. He says that he did all the horrible thing to all the little girls and gracelings. Bitterblue tells him desperately that she forgives him and that it’s not his fault it was Leck’s grace. But Theil jumps into the river below. Bitterblue tried to hold him back but he was to strong.Saf, who is hiding in a small bridge tower on winged bridge, comes out and brings the crying Bitterblue into his hideout. He sits there and comforts her. He then tells her to dream of something nice like babies.
She dreamed herself of a baby in her mother’s arms. When she woke she realized Saf’s grace was giving dreams. So when she went back to the castle she told everyone that Theil was gone. Saf experimented and gave her a dream. It worked.
Bitterblue found out that Fox is actually Grey, Spook’s, who has the crown, granddaughter. She makes a plan to find their hideout and attack them. Saf went and got the crown, but had to throw it in the river to keep it out of Spook’s hands. There were too many witnesses so he had to go into hiding again.Bitterblue then had Fox arrested.Bitterblue figured out Leck had a child with Bellamew, and that child is Hava. So Hava is Bitterblue’s sister and heir to the throne. Hava doesn’t want to be queen so Bitterblue will keep it secret.
After figuring out that her advisors were behind the attacks, she sent them to prison. Darby hung himself, so Bitterblue kindly placed Rood under house arrest. He thanked her many times.
Katsa then came back with people called the Dellians from a place called the Dells. There are people with strange and unnatural hair colors from the Dells called monsters that can read your mind and mesmerize you. The Dellians live in peace and don’t wish for war. They brought a monster with them, named lady Fire. They tell her that Madlen is from Dells.
Bitterblue is not mad, but amazed.The Dellians tell her that they come from a land of advanced medicinal techniques and that is why Leck did so many strange experiments.Leck did not come from Dells, but lived there. His name was formerly Eemkerr. Bitterblue built ministries.
One is to help people affected by Leck to help them heal. Bitterblue has finally put her kingdom on it’s way to healing.