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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Peaslee

Spoiler-Free Book Review: Graceling

An illustrated depiction of an older woman in a yellow shirt standing in front of an octopus exhibit at an aquarium.

Graceling, a debut novel by Kristin Cashore, is the first book in a fantasy series about a realm where some people are born with magical abilities, or Graces. The so-called "Gracelings" are often feared or reviled throughout the seven kingdoms.

In Graceling, we meet Katsa, who is Graced with killing. But when we first see Katsa, she is rescuing an old man who has been kidnapped. This immediately tells the reader that there will be conflict between who Katsa believes she is and who she wants to be.

Katsa meets Prince Po, grandson of the kidnapped man, who is Graced with fighting. The two become fast friends and travel companions, seeking the mastermind behind the kidnapping. When they discover who their foe is, the two may be outmatched for the first time in their lives...

Katsa is fierce, independent, and incredibly unsure of herself. Po is sweet, reasonable, and clever. They make an excellent team.

The pacing is good, although I struggle to maintain interest about two-thirds of the way in, as there is a section of descriptive passages with nearly no dialogue—I'm a gal who loves her dialogue—but it picks back up again fairly quickly.

Graceling is not a new book—it came out in 2008—but it's the beginning of an enchanting series that I highly recommend!

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