Book Review: ‘The Bitter Kingdom’ (Fire & Thorns #3) by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom cover

I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns shortly after it came out and fell in love with its main character, Elisa, and the interesting world and culture Rae Carson created. It’s not something I noticed right away, actually it took me until now to realize that the Fire and Thorns trilogy is one of the few YA books where the majority of characters are not Caucasian. Now, I do take into consideration the story at hand over anything else the book offers. But it really should be commended when a book shows diversity because in this day and age, readers are as diverse as ever. So it’s a welcomed when the main character actually looks like you or when you can almost directly identify with the character’s world and culture.

That was the case for me with the Fire and Thorns trilogy. Like I said, it took me a long time to see the extra connection I had with the story. I always appreciated the heavy Spanish influence this world had. I loved the story and the adventure Elisa undertakes first and foremost, but to see a fantastical spin on a culture that I grew up with and feel part of it was very pleasing.

Moving on, The Bitter Kingdom is an amazing finale to an amazing series. It’s action-packed, moving, thought-provoking and yes, very romantic. If you think the series can’t get any better than the previous two books, you are wrong. The Bitter Kingdom will leave you immensely satisfied and just wanting to hug your Fire and Thorns trilogy books.

This final installment begins not long after the end of The Crown of Embers. Elisa and company are riding after Hector and the Inviernos that have kidnapped him. Elisa has promised to come for him, and she’s determined to keep that promise. Along with her heartache for Hector, Elisa is deeply worried about her kingdom. She has been betrayed by trusted advisor, who is turning her kingdom against her. She must also find a way to make a peaceful agreement with the Inviernos and settle an age-old feud before they are used against her and the people of her kingdom.


A lot goes down in The Bitter Kingdom, and I loved every second of it. Elisa is more powerful than ever, and it’s an amazing thing to see when you compare her to how she was in The Girl of Fire and Thorns. She has definitely grown as a character and watching her develop into who she becomes is fascinating. But as much as she grows in the last books, I think she grows the most in this one. Even though there are several events that test her, there’s one particular thing that happens that I think truly tested her. I must say it was unexpected, yet I loved how it worked out because it showed that Elisa’s true power came not from anything but herself.

The story moves at a brisk pace for the most part. It slows down for some tender moments between characters, which I think will have some fans seriously swooning. (As if the few chapters in Hector’s POV weren’t enough to put us in a swoon-induced happiness.) The pacing and emotional moments make this one sweeping and moving finale. It has the right amounts of action, drama, intrigue and romance. It’s so well-rounded, and the story covers all of the plot’s bases.

I honestly couldn’t have imagined a better ending for the Fire and Thorns trilogy. The Bitter Kingdom delivers and then delivers again. It had everything I could’ve ever wanted and more. It just further solidified the fact that more people should seek out this story. It’s really a shame to pass it up, for it has an amazing story with captivating characters and a unique and richly detailed world. I mean, really, how can you pass that up?

The Bitter Kingdom Rating: 10/10

The Fire and Thorns Trilogy Rating: 10/10

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson will be available wherever books are sold on August 27, 2013. Support The Young Folks and purchase the book at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.

Book Info:

Publisher:  Greenwillow Books (August 27, 2013)
Length: 400 pages, Hardcover
Series: Fire and Thorns – Book 3 of 3
Source: Digital Review Copy (Provided via Edelweiss)
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Action Adventure
Completed: April 2013

Gabrielle is 27 years old and lives in Chicago. She enjoys writing about film, TV, and books, but occasionally writes about music as well. In addition to writing for, she also the editor-in-chief and a co-founder. In her spare time, she’s either watching more movies and shows or reading more books, while continuously checking Twitter, which she may or may not be addicted to… Feel free to email her your thoughts, ideas and questions.