Kristin Cashore proves she is graced with the ability to sweep teen and adult readers alike away on an adventure full of action, romance, and stunning scenery with nothing more than the words of her novel, Graceling. Readers will find themselves carried off to the land of seven kingdoms, where gracelings are rare individuals born with extraordinary talents and marked with miss-matched eyes. With one eye brilliant blue, and the other piercing green, Katsa, is an exceptionally strong sixteen year old girl, cursed with the grace of killing. An orphan, living in the court of her uncle, king of one of the seven kingdoms, Katsa is feared. Her Uncle uses this fear, and her power to punish his subjects, and enforce his rule. Outcast and avoided because of her grace, Katsa is left with few friends, little practice in social interactions and a fierce aversion to following the path of life prescribed for noble women. Despite her alienation and the sinister nature of her grace, Katsa's moral compass points truer than her uncle's. Although she carries out his will, she organizes a secret council of nobles and servants, to right the unjust doings of the all-powerful and often cruelly violent kings of the land. One Council mission brings Kasta face to face with the cocky, graceling Prince Po. Nearly equally matched as fighters, the physical and emotional challenges Po brings into Katsa's life cultivates new growth in both characters. As Katsa learns more about herself, she finds the strength to stand against the orders of her uncle. But this is only the beginning of Katsa and Po's adventure. The mystery of the abduction of Po's grandfather slowly reveals that a darker storm is brewing in the seven kingdoms and even the deadly Katsa may not be up to the challenge of weathering it alone. In Katsa, Cashore delivers a character that is both larger than life, and sweetly human. She struggles like we all do, to define herself and the way she will use her grace to fit into her world. Despite her struggles, Katsa is a character whose strength will leave young girls and women cheering. She finds her prince, but she is never rescued, or convinced to betray her choices. Katsa is both dynamic and charming. Excellent characterization combined with a quick plot, a sweet romance and vividly drawn scenery make this title an excellent choice for many readers. Simply put, you won't be sorry if you let a copy of Cashore's novel grace your own book shelf.
Teen fans of this story may also enjoy titles such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Adults may enjoy Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.
Recommended by Megan Willan