Wow. I haven’t read a book I’ve enjoyed as much as Graceling in ages. If you’re looking for a book to get you out of a slump, or just a really fantastic little YA fantasy, you can’t go wrong with this one.
TL;DR Katsa is Graced with the ability to kill. Her uncle, the king of one of seven kingdoms in the realm, has trained her to be his enforcer and assassin, but Katsa has had enough of killing. When she meets a Graced prince from another kingdom, she finds herself falling in love and running towards danger. But both are hiding secrets and neither of their Graces are quite what they seem…
After accidentally killing a man during a childish tantrum, Katsa (and everyone around her) realised she was one of the rare Graced: people who possess a particular skill – more than just a natural ability – and that her skill was, unfortunately, killing. Her uncle, one of seven kings who rule the realm, saw an opportunity and decided to turn his young niece into a cold-blooded killer, using her reputation to inspire fear in his enemies.
Now seventeen, Katsa is well-known around the Seven Kingdoms, having been her uncle’s enforcer for years. But she’s sick of doing his dirty work, so along with a few allies, Katsa has formed a council that works under the king’s nose to spare his would-be victims. On one mission to rescue a kidnapped grandfather being held in the dungeon, Katsa runs into Prince Po, another Graceling with the skill of fighting.
Katsa finds herself falling for the mysterious prince, and when she finally builds the courage to tell her uncle she won’t do his bidding anymore, the two royal Gracelings end up on a journey to a far away kingdom where rumours abound and strange happenings are all too common. But, as they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Secrets come to light, life-changing self-discoveries are made, and lies are exposed in the explosive final chapters of this book!
I fell in love with Graceling the way you fall asleep, slowly and then all at once (little The Fault in our Stars reference for you there). It builds quite slowly at first, in my opinion, but once I knew who was who, and the story started to kick into high gear, I was absolutely hooked.
I gave it 5 stars, because it’s a new favourite, I haven’t enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed this for months. Maybe even a year? It’s a pretty classic YA fantasy, done exactly right, and now joins the ranks of A Court of Mist and Fury and Nevernight in my ‘best books ever’ section.
That’s all I have to say about it really, just go and read it if you haven’t already, and you’re a YA fantasy fan. I’d even recommend it to adult fantasy fans, the characters are teens but it’s definitely got a more broad appeal, I would say. Plus, there are two more books in the series – not exactly sequels as they follow different characters (with the occasional cameo I believe) in the Graceling realm. I’m planning to get the other two books, Bitterblue (a character who appears in Graceling, so that’s exciting) and Fire, on Audible at some point, as I listened to the audio book of Graceling and really enjoyed the experience, and I tend to stick to either audio or paperback depending on how I read book one of a series, for continuity.
I’ll be sure to review books two and three as soon as I read them, but my Audible library is currently bursting at the seams with Children of Blood and Bone, The Lies of Locke Lamora, An Ember in the Ashes, Scythe, Escaping from Houdini, and lots more fabulous reads. And that’s not even counting my physical TBR pile, or the podcasts I’ve got stacking up…
I’d better get reading! See you next time.