Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Reading Challenges: 33 for 100+ in 2009

I first became interested in Graceling after reading a review at The Book Nest. I'm glad I followed her recommendation, because pretty much from the first page I was hooked. This is the perfect summer read for either laying by the pool or relaxing beneath a shady tree.

Our heroine, Katsa, is blessed, or cursed at times in her opinion, with a grace. In Katsa's world, a grace is a sort of innate ability that certain people are born with. Graces can be as simple as being able to play the flute really well, or as powerful as being able to read minds. Katsa's grace just happens to be killing, and as such, is exploited by her Uncle, the king, to preserve his own power and ensure that his demands are met. Katsa's role as royal enforcer often leaves her troubled, and somewhat afraid of her own powers. Deep down, Katsa is also lonely, although she doesn't realize it. That is, until she meets Po, a prince with a powerful fighting grace that seems to rival her own. As Katsa learns more about Po, and his mysterious grace, she also learns more about herself and finds the freedom to choose her own path.

This book was pure fun. The story had plenty of action, beginning even from the first page, and I found Katsa to be a complex but likeable character. The romance was sweet, without being overly sappy, although I did find Katsa's negative views of marriage as somewhat puzzling. This may sound strange, but I also really enjoyed the antagonist in the novel. We don't actually see much of his character, but his grace was just so sneaky! Cashore kept me guessing to the end as to how or if he would be ultimately defeated. I am glad that I gave this book a try and I plan on reading Fire, Cashore's soon to be released second novel.

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