A magical story you might have overlooked

Graceling ★ ★ ★ ★ (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, #1)
Harcourt Children’s Books, 2008
by Kristin Cashore

Plot Summary: In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.

If you have been resisting Young Adult (YA) fiction because you think it is too … well … young for you, think again. Some of the most original and captivating storytelling is happening in the YA book industry. Some of it is so good in fact, that it really defies categorization and should be promoted to everyone, not just the young, but the young at heart, and people who just love good books. Kristin Cashore’s Graceling is one of these books.

Beautiful! Delightful! Left me feeling warm and fuzzy all over. Certainly by the end of reading this book you couldn’t knock the goofy smile from my face with a two-by-four. I love genre books that surpass genre, whose stories and characters are so richly drawn they cannot be contained, but rather burst forth from the limiting confines of convention. Yes, this is YA fantasy, it is also a romance and a rip-roaring adventure story — it is all of these but the result is so much greater than the mere sum of its parts.

Katsa and Po are flesh and blood and bone; their discovery of one another is filled with such tenderness and believability I wanted to cry. Their separate and distinctive journeys toward self-discovery and self-acceptance is one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

I am crushed to realize that Book 2 in the series — Fire — does not continue Po and Katsa’s journey. But I can concede that Cashore has done a remarkable job offering readers a complete story here with a wholly satisfying ending.  Rating: ★★★★

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