In the land of Middluns, one of the Seven Kingdoms, 18 year old Katsa is an enforcer for her uncle, King Randa in this medieval-esque fantasy novel by Kristin Cashore. Whenever any of his subjects crosses him (or sometimes if they even talk or think about it), Katsa is sent to subdue the offender. Now, exactly how scary and intimidating could an 18 year old girl be to a noble who has, say, neglected to pay his taxes you ask? In most cases the answer would be “not very;” but Katsa happens to have two different colored eyes (one blue, one green) which signify that she is a “graceling,” a person who has a special talent or “grace.” Now many graces are quite ordinary, like being able to climb trees really well, or being a wonderful baker. But Katsa has the rare grace of excelling in combat: she can take on 8 armored guards with only her bare hands and beat them into a pulp, and hit a target with a knife or bow with unerring accuracy. As Katsa carries out her uncle’s orders, she begins to question whether or not she should be using her grace to hurt and bully, rather than ad those in need. So Katsa starts a secret underground organization providing assistance to the helpless, but will she be able to get away from her uncle’s powerful grip?
Graceling is a fast-paced, exciting fantasy novel with a richly imagined world, as well as a scary, compelling villain. Once you’ve devoured Graceling, be sure to check out its companion novel, Fire, and its just-released sequel, Bitterblue.
Review by Ian, CLP-Homewood