Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
About the author: Kristin Cashore grew up in a rickety old house, inhabited by three sisters and a scattering of cats at the top of a hill in the countryside of northeastern Pennsylvania. During those years, she read while brushing her teeth and chopping parsley. Books were the first thing she grabbed every morning. As an adult, Cashore wrote teaching fodder for the kindergarten to grade six market, as well her first book, Graceling, in her pyjamas. Cashore has since written a companion book, Fire, and a sequel, Bitterblue, which picks up the story eight years after the events of Graceling.
Plot: Main character Katsa is born with an innate ability, known in the book as a “grace.” But her aptitude is not in needlework or curtsying — it’s kicking ass. Katsa can defeat any opponent in combat, an ability that is both a gift and a curse. Neighbours fear Katsa for her reputed brutality, and politicians manipulate her into punishing their enemies. Katsa is a character reminiscent of The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen: independent, stubborn and with a penchant for breaking gender stereotypes.
Why you should read it: If you love fantasy, with its epic battles, magic and adventures, but are tired of the misogyny of your typical fantasy novel, you should give this book a read. Graceling will engage fans of The Hunger Games book series and movies as well as die-hard fantasy readers. A distribution company bought the film rights in April 2013, so there may even be a Graceling movie within the next few years. Read the book now, and you can be the hipster-nerd who says they read it before the movie was released.