cover image The Bitter Kingdom

The Bitter Kingdom

Rae Carson. Greenwillow, $17.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-202654-5

The action-packed conclusion to Carson’s excellent trilogy opens hard on the heels of 2012’s The Crown of Embers: young Queen Elisa and her companions trek into enemy territory to rescue the man she loves, while a traitor back home attempts to overthrow her. Elisa’s journeys take her to the wintry lands of Invierne, where she hopes to destroy the source of the Inviernos’ magic and bargain for peace; to the Basajuan desert, where only her most audacious plans have any chance to stop the war; and home to try to regain her throne through wits and political skill. The plot takes time to gather momentum, but Carson moves the story along with terrific world-building and character development. She also tackles classic fantasy tropes, springing off into unusual and refreshing directions that reinforce her story. Elisa learns to wield the full power of the Godstone, but it’s her brains, courage, and ability to inspire people that continue to bring her success. Carson brings her series to an end with a thrilling climax, but readers will hope more adventures lie ahead. Ages 13–up. Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Leavell Literary Agency. (Sept.)