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… — Goodreads Description
Let’s get right to it: I loved it.
I’m sure two weeks down the road I’ll end up agreeing with all the less than glowing reviews I’ve seen on some points but for the time being I loved it.
Things I Liked
- Katsa. She’s very different from what society expects of her but that’s what I love about her. Some may call her a Mary Sue, and I guess that’s well within their right to do so, but I thought she was an incredibly compelling character. Frustrating at times, yes, but compelling all the same. She’s a tomboy if I ever saw one (though that is no surprise considering what her Grace is), but she also questions herself. She’s not acting the part of special snowflake and she has genuine worries that I can empathise with a lot, especially her fear of herself and what she can do.
- In general, I was very pleased with how many female characters there were who weren’t helpless. Perhaps unrealistic for the general time period but I enjoyed it all the same. Bitterblue was smart and quick on the uptake. Faun only had very few scenes but I was delighted to find out about her. Even Po’s mother’s agency gave her more to be than just his mother.
- Speaking of women, I was so pleased when I realised that Cashore didn’t just handwave real-world lady issues like periods and how to have sex. She didn’t go into specifics, but just that she mentioned it in passing was a very nice addition. I always do wonder when girls go on adventures and don’t worry about things like their period.
- The romance. Of course there was romance. Is there ever a book without romance? Probably not. But it was slow and quiet and well-paced. I wasn’t overwhelmed by it the way I often am with books that aren’t outright chicklit. Katsa and Po were amazing together and of course, as with any story that contains romance, the pair was separated at one point and it slayed me. Everything from Katsa’s fiery disdain of him to the revelation of what Po did for her was utterly delicous and I ship it so hard.
- The plot itself. It was interesting from start to finish and I enjoyed it very much. There was something fascinating about the Graces and to learn about the mystery surrounding Bitterblue’s family. I thought that was very well done.
Things I Didn’t Like
- Bitterblue sounds way too mature for her age, even under the circumstances. She doesn’t read like a ten-year-old at all. Like. At all. But then I can forgive that in favour of the engrossing plot.
- The plot twists were foreseeable. Though I feel like this might be more of an issue for others than it is for me. I actually thought it pretty nice to be validated in my suspicions and would’ve been disappointed if Katsa had evaded certain doom just because she’s the MC. That would’ve been more unrealistic than I would’ve liked, I’m sure.
And then she swung the door open and almost sat down on the floor in astonishment, because before her in the hallway stood Raffin.
He was muddy and smelled like horses.
“Did we get here in time for the food?” he asked. “The invitation said something about pie, and I’m starving.”
Ahhh, a man after my own heart. You can always lure me in with talk about food. :D
All things considered I enjoyed Graceling very much and would definitely recommend it. :D