I've been a huge fan of this series from the start. Elisa is such a fabulous heroine, and in THE BITTER KINGDOM, we see her fully step into her own as a woman and as a queen. Her journey from book one to book three will resonate with readers who long to see insecurities become confidence, doubts become strengths, and beauty that isn't the air-brushed skinny perfection our culture lauds be celebrated. The other characters in the series also feel fully realized, and Hector especially stands out as a hero with quiet intelligence, respectfulness, and strength that isn't intimidated by Elisa's strength. Their romance is a slow-burning treat that culminates in an absolutely beautiful ceremony in THE BITTER KINGDOM.
The world building is also quite well done. The reader has the sense of a huge world with various adjoining kingdoms, each with their own culture, politics, traditions, and physical appearances. From the sensory details included in Elisa's journey through each kingdom to the fully developed theological system that governs Elisa's life, the world feels as real to the reader as that of Tolkien or Lewis.
The plot arcs are handled with a deftness that few series accomplish. Elisa's personal journey from insecure, overweight, overlooked princess to a queen who is absolutely confident in her decisions, her intelligence, and that her beauty is worth celebrating is expertly woven against a backdrop of court politics, racial prejudice, prophecies, civil war, and betrayal. After reading all three books, this reader feels fully satisfied in the plot, the characters, the romance, and the underlying message that our worth isn't tied to what others think of us.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Nothing. I feel absolutely satisfied in every way with this trilogy, and indeed would love to see a spin-off with two of the minor characters.
Accomplished writing, stellar world building, and a heroine unlike any other make this entire series a must-read.