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Review | Graceling

Spoiler Free Review

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25 / 5 stars.

Author: Kristin Cashore.

Length: 471 pages.

Trigger Warnings: vision impairment, violence, manipulation.

Graceling Realm Book #1

“I wanted you to go away, because it hurts to be with you when I can’t see you.”

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. 

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po. 

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. 

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

I am awed at Kristin Cashore’s skills. I cannot believe that this was her debut novel. The level of image in this story was over the roof, and the amount of detail made it all feel even more real (if that’s even possible). Still, despite the fact that it was so detailed and properly described, it was never tiresome or hard to understand. I’m not the biggest fan of descriptions because they bore me, and this book is 80% descriptions. Granted, it took me a little bit to get into it, but after the plot started to pick up, I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. This author has a unique voice, unlike anything I’ve read before, and I’m glad that I was able to appreciate and admire her skills, even if they’re not my favorite part about a story.

The plot was full of twists — many more than I anticipated. Every time I thought something would happen, I was caught completely off guard, and I could not believe many of the things that actually went down. However, I do think the pacing was a little off. There’s so much that happens in such a short amount of time that I think this should have felt as a fast, exciting read. But for me, it was anything but. I felt that everything moved slowly, even when a lot was happening, which made this more of a slow read for me. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something that rarely happens to me while reading. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but it’s not my favorite technique. Regardless, it definitely doesn’t affect the reading experience beyond the actual reading time.

But you do have a choice. He’s not the one who makes you savage. You make yourself savage, when you bend yourself to his will.

Katsa was a surprising main character. Because of her grace and the way she grew up, she’s very closed-off and comes off as irritable and unlikable. But she’s such a good person, and I had a blast being able to experience this from her perspective. I really enjoyed watching her realize the kind of person she really is and see her learn to trust other people. Her character development was very interesting because she struggled a lot to come to terms with certain parts of her life and personality, which made her doubt herself often. A lot of this was also rooted on the nature of her grace. Watching her discover her real identity and take her life into her own hands was empowering. I loved watching her kick ass too. Obviously, there were moments where she was exasperating and incredibly reckless (I swear for a moment there I thought she would actually die), but at least she was ok when it was all said and done. That ending was completely astounding, and not only because it wrapped up this story nicely, but because it showed us how strong Katsa is.

Of course, I can’t rave about Katsa without mentioning Po. It’s been a long time since I liked a love interest as much as I liked him. I’ll be honest, I say that a lot, but I’m slowly realizing that I miss YA because I don’t read it as much anymore, and there is something about YA characters that is so endearing that makes me want to hug them and meet them and protect them… I can’t properly describe it. Anyways, Po’s character development was also *chef’s kiss* gorgeous, and his relationship with Katsa filled my heart with the most fluffy and cute feelings. The part of the end that was centered around him destroyed me, but it was realistic, and after so much struggle there had to be some kind of sacrifice/consequence. Still, I love the way that they both managed it.

When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?

Overall, I’m glad that I didn’t read this years ago. Although I know I would have really liked, I don’t think I would have appreciated as much. Again, the writing was mind-blowingly good and the story was much more political than I expected, and I know for a fact that all that would’ve bored me to death (back then I would’ve probably only read it for the romance). I definitely recommend it if you enjoy YA fantasy, romance subplots, and lots of action and survival storylines!


Setting: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / 5 stars.

Plot: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 stars.

Characters: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌟 / 5 stars.

Writing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / 5 stars.

Pacing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 stars.

My main rating is not an average from my breakdown, but an estimate of my personal enjoyment.