Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads): Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
My Summary: Katsa grew up in her Uncle's kingdom, feared by all thanks to her Grace - a gift or talent - which allows her to kill. She works as her uncle's bully, forcing those who do not submit to his will to do as he commands. She has everything she could ever want... except for her freedom.
But when she fights - and almost loses to - a mysterious stranger during a secret rescue attempt, Katsa knows things are about to change. But even she can't predict that her life will be so drastically affected by the man, and that the fate of all seven kingdoms may rest in her hands alone.
My Thoughts: A few of you recommended this book to me after my adoring review of Brightly Woven, and I gotta say, I'm sorry I didn't listen sooner! Graceling was a wonderful mix of adventure, paranormal, and romance - I'm so glad I bought all 3 books together, because the minute I finished the first installment, I wanted nothing more than to dive right into the second.
Katsa was another example of a kickass female heroine - I didn't quite agree with all her choices, but she was definitely someone I enjoyed reading about. I loved the slow build-up of the romance in the novel - it never felt like the main focus (which is always a good thing when you're not reading a book that's solely a romance). The adventure aspect was very well-written, and the writing in general was fantastic.
Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA or fantasy - especially if you enjoy books like Brightly Woven.