Book: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Genre(s): Fantasy
Publisher: Graphia
Publication date: 2009
480 pages
Other: Morris Award Honor book, 2009

Graceling coverSummary: The niece of unscrupulous King Randa, Katsa is a Graceling with a deadly gift~ she can destroy just about anyone with her mad-crazy fighting skills. It’s no wonder that most people give her a wide berth, even the king, although he does use her as a killing and intimidation machine when he has “dirty work” to do around his kingdom.

Katsa herself is quite disgusted with her talents, and seeks ways to redeem herself by joining forces with her few trusted friends to form the Council, a secret group who seek to ensure that justice and peace is maintained in the land.

But what will happen when Katsa encounters a mysterious stranger, also a Graceling, while on a secret Council mission. How is it that she cannot defeat this stranger? And can the Council solve the mystery of who is behind the kidnapping of Prince Tealiff, or will the Middluns succumb to the unknown danger?

To whom will this appeal?: Graceling will appeal to older teens (especially girls and young women) who seek myth-like quest stories with strong female characters. Those who enjoy romance will find something here, although the romance is discreet. There are also strong themes of love, sacrifice and justice. The author balances description with fast paced action, so the book should appeal to a diverse group. However, there is an unconventional attitude towards marriage, so it may not appeal to the more traditionally minded. For the budding feminist, however, this book is a goldmine of adventure and excitement, not to mention thoughtful (and yet not preachy) discussion of the female condition.