This is my review of The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson I posted on Goodreads. There are some spoilers in the second paragraph so read the original here if you don't want to see them.
I have been captivated by Rae Carson's writing, and enjoyed the conclusion to her Fire and Thorns trilogy. The first part of the book, which focuses on Elisa's pursuit of Hector to save him from the Inviernes is outstanding. I was intrigued to learn more about the Invierne people and their land (and I love Storm's character!). The twist on another Godstone bearer and the gatekeeper was excellent, as is the fact that Hector and Elisa both have moments to show their strengths. Their relationship and characters have more depth because the author allows them both moments of strength and weaknesses.
Some criticisms: The whole trilogy has been focused on the idea that Godstone bearers have some unique and important, if misundertood, task to accomplish. With all the grand sweeping action and Elisa's focus on holding her kingdom together, her actual Godstone task seemed contrived and tangental, rather than forwarding the plot. In my opinion, it serves mainly to [SPOILER ALERT ensure that Elisa's invincible powers she obtained in the second book will be MIA] for the final climax. That, and [SPOILER ALERT hooking up with Hector before the wedding] diminished my enjoyment of the second part of the book.
Overall, though, I love the beautiful writing and the intelligence of the heroine, and am looking forward to reading more of Rae Carson's work.