Author: Kristin Cashore
Location: YA Cashore
Reading Level: Young Adult
This story revolves around Katsa who is the niece of a king in one of the seven kingdoms. Katsa is unique because she is graced; she was born with the uncanny ability to perform a special skill. Unlike some other gracelings whose talents are swimming or archery, Katsa’s grace is killing. She is employed by her uncle as his primary enforcer and assassin. Katsa secretly despises her position so she joins an underground society devoted to righting the wrongs that are committed by people in power. While on a rescue mission for her society Katsa meets Po, a prince graced with fighting. Together Katsa and Po have to travel to one of the other kingdoms to solve a mysterious kidnapping and possibly multiple murders. They soon realize that the mystery has deeper implications than either expected and if they do not act, the whole land will be in peril.
This may sound like the typical fantasy adventure tale, but it is entirely unique. In her debut novel, Kristin Cashore uses stellar writing to create an extraordinary world peopled with fascinating characters. Katsa is a wonderful heroine. She is incredibly strong, and even though she grows and matures emotionally throughout the book, the defining elements of her character remain intact. Po is another fleshed out character whose relationship with Katsa is one of the best aspects of the novel. The action sequences are exciting, the plot is entirely engaging and the romance provides the finishing touch to one of the best novels of 2008.
The Bottom Line: I can’t say enough good things about Graceling. Give it a try and I guarantee you will love it! Even though this book is marketed to teens, the characters are not specifically teenaged, so adults who enjoy fantasy should love this book as well. Be on the lookout for Cashore’s next book, Fire, which comes out on October 6, 2009