I just finished reading GRACELING, by Kristin Cashore. Even though I’m not a big fantasy reader, I decided to give it a try because of the great press it was getting. Boy, am I glad I did! It’s one of the best YA’s I’ve read. Ever. It’s got everything–a strong, vibrant main character, plenty of action and adventure, a completely believable fantasy world, a tender love story, and a brilliant cast of supporting characters.

The world of GRACELING consists of seven kingdoms. Throughout the kingdoms, some children are born with “graces.” They’re identified by the fact that their eyes are two different colors. Often, their particular grace is discovered by accident, as happened to Katsa, the main character. Katsa’s particular grace is killing or hurting people. Her uncle, king of the Middluns, takes advantage of her status as an orphan and uses her to do his dirty work. She feels helpless to change things until she gets to know Po, also a graceling, and the man Katsa falls in love with.

Cashore could have stopped with this much and created a terrific story. But she instills both Katsa and Po with complexity. Both need to learn how to control their graces, and ultimately to decide how their powers will be used. Katsa is temperamental and prone to act before she thinks; Po is more thoughtful and endowed with plenty of common sense. He’s sweet and warm, and it’s easy to see how he steals Katsa’s heart.

Enough said. There is so much pleasure to be had in discovering these characters yourself. I have read that Cashore is at work on a prequel. I’m sure her readers will want to know much more about Katsa and Po.

Have you read GRACELING? What did you think?

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