Be careful when starting “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore, because it is a difficult book to put down. Reminiscent of Tamora Pierce creations, “Graceling” is a fantasy novel that has both exciting action and spirited characters. It follows the story of fearsome Katsa as she tries to understand the difference between who she has always been perceived as and who she really wants to become. Obviously, this journey parallels an actual journey involving great adventure and intrigue.
More so than the plot, it is the world Kristin Cashore develops that is alive and magical. The novel takes place in the fantasy realm known as Seven Kingdoms, where certain people are born with special abilities. These beings, similar to the X-men’s mutant, are referred to as Gracelings, and are often feared or revered. Katsa is one of the feared, for she is an unstoppable force and has been raised to use her aggressive gift to bully the citizens of her uncle’s kingdom. The book begins with Katsa feeling increasingly discontent with her violent role in life, and follows her decisions to change and accept responsibility for her own choices as she discovers her own identity. Following Katsa’s personal transformation is one of the most interesting aspects of “Graceling.”
Her personal growth is aided by the sudden arrival of handsome and mysterious Po, a Prince from another kingdom. Po is immediately likable to both Katsa and readers with a touching mix of charm, honesty, and vulnerability. He and Katsa set out to uncover a mystery plaguing the Seven Kingdoms, and their travels make up most of the story’s best moments as Po forces Katsa to confront several personal issues, often inadvertently.
Plot: Three and a half
Writing: Three and a half
Addictiveness: Four and a half
Overall Rating ~ Four