It's New Year's Day. You did not get to bed until 4:30am. It's now 3pm and you've just taken the dogs for a snowy walk accompanied by friends. You feel it's time to snuggle up, and maybe have a little snooze, with the first book of 2010. There is an almost revoltingly (but not quite) large pile of reading options so you narrow it down to a few and pick one at random. When next seen it's 8pm and you've not had that nap. Bliss!
Credit goes to The Book Smugglers for alerting me to this book - those girls are going to ruin me! Young Adult fantasy, and New York Times bestseller, Graceling was Kristin Cashore's debut novel.
Occasionally people of the seven kingdoms are born with a Grace and are marked by odd coloured eyes. Some people develop the ability to excel at swimming, weather or cookery however Katya's Grace is that of Death. Since the age of eight, when she accidentally killed for the first time, her uncle, the King of Middluns, has trained her to hone her skills and he uses her as his personal enforcer. Known by her fearsome reputation throughout the kingdoms, and now in her late teens, Katya is beginning to question her obedience to her Uncle's demands and to develop her own moral framework.
Katya is an absolute delight of a female lead. She is strong, independent, courageous, loyal and unquestionably kicks ass. Since childhood she's been viewed by most people as a monster and the circle of people she can trust is tiny. She hates the work she has to do for her bullying uncle and each successful mission she undertakes on his behalf only cements her fearsome reputation and serves to set her further apart from normal people.
Early on she encounters (and bests) Po, who is Graced with a talent for fighting, and at last she has someone in her life who can challenge her both physically and mentally. Katya has little experience of friendship, or how to relate to people, and Po helps her to take steps towards evaluating her own self-worth and growing as a person.
All of which sounds a little worthy but honestly it's not! Katya is just all over fab, Po is lovely and their blossoming romance is a delight. *swoons*. The engaging plot is filled with twists and turns and it was absolutely the perfect read for a cozy New Year's Day. Although Young Adult, this book never felt that it was compromising on plot or peril so I would comfortably say that anyone who likes a dollop Fantasy would enjoy it.
I should confess that when I was about half way through the book I took just one little break so I could order Cashore's next book, the standalone prequel Fire, as I neeeeeeded it. I am a little disappointed that my stern resolve to cut back on book buying fell apart on the first day of the year but I honestly just could not resist as I've read it's even better. Can't wait! :)