Reviewed by Nikyta
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Heroes/Heroine: Katsa and Prince Po
Genre: M/F Young Adult Fantasy
Length: 480 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Release Date: September 7, 2009
Available at: Harcourt, Amazon, All Romance eBooks & Barnes and Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads & Booklikes
Blurb: 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…
This is exactly the kind of story that I love to read about. A well developed world with new cultures and customs. A kickass heroine that puts the fear of God in just about everyone. That handsome but charming hero that becomes a soft spot for the heroine. *sigh* Just about everything about this book was tailored to my tastes. To say I loved it wouldn’t even touch the surface on exactly how I felt.
I won’t go into much detail about it because this book has been out for a few years now and I’m sure there are loads of reviews that can give an in-depth description about the world and such. What I will say is that the author managed to create a unique setting with a variety of interesting characters where someone who is ‘Graced’ is anyone with a special power and two different eye colors.
One of which is Katsa, who I adored. She’s rough around the edges and very dangerous but below all that, she’s afraid of her own Grace. As the story progresses, and with the help of Po, she starts to understand that her Grace is not as simple as she’s always thought it to be. Po was another character I loved. He’s sweet, charming and pretty much the only one that can get through to Katsa. I loved him so much and if I could change anything, I’d add more Po scenes to the story LOL.
While I loved the book, though, I did have some issues. It was a little hard for me to get into the story because there is a lot of info dumping in the beginning. Once I got passed that, I was so captivated by the tale the author was weaving that I didn’t even notice how much time was passing. Unfortunately, around three-quarters of the way in, it started to drag a little with very long descriptions of mundane situations. Beyond that, I felt like the ending seemed too ‘uncertain’. With everything that happened and the feelings that were brought forth between Po and Katsa, I expected something more concrete to be settled between them. Not necessarily marriage since she’s against it but at least a better promise of together not a ‘maybe’ which is what it felt like.
In the end, this was a fascinating story telling the journey of a young assassin’s self-discovery. Of how she learns her place in the world and ends up finding love, friendship and family on the way there. It’s somewhat sweet, somewhat intense, and somewhat romantic. It had the perfect balance for a young adult fantasy book and while some of it is gruesome, the overall storytelling was definitely worth the read. I’m looking forward to reading more of these characters and this world especially since I know Bitterblue (one of the side characters) will be getting her own story.
Definitely recommended for those who like fantasy with a little love and a lot of intensity!
Overall Impression: I loved it
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*