I’ve heard amazing things about Graceling by Kristin Cashore for over a year and a half, especially from book bloggers lucky enough to get an ARC of this fantastic novel. Seeing it out in paperback on a weekend when I desperately needed a good fantasy novel to escape in gave me reason to try it for myself.
To be completely honest, the book description didn’t really make me want to read the book. It didn’t seem like my type of thing:
If you had the power to kill with your bare hands, what would you do with it?
Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa’s Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.
Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.
But the great number of positive reviews I’ve read gave me a lot of hope, and I wasn’t disappointed. I was pulled into the plot immediately and could barely put it down until I’d finished.
One of the best parts of this book is that Katsa is a kick-ass heroine. So much of the YA Fantasy I’ve read lately over the past few years (especially the really popular ones) have had completely annoying female heroines. Girls who make so many dumb moves and decisions that you want to smack them over the head. Katsa is the complete opposite. She’s not flawless, but she’s a great character and a excellent heroine.
Also, Po is one of the best love interests in YA Lit.
If you liked the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray, I definitely recommend Graceling.
Fire, the companion novel to Graceling, comes out October 5th.
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