Kristin Cashore

I kept hearing that this book was good. And it duly followed me home and sat in my library basket. And sat. And sat. Finally, when TeenLibrarian said “super awesome must read!” I cracked the cover.

In the kingdoms people are born with Graces, which come apparent when their eyes change to be two different colors, usually during childhood. Some Graces are very helpful (healing horses), some worrying (mind reading) and some odd (climbing trees). Those that are useful are put into the service of the King, others are left with their family, outsiders not fully accepted because of their difference.

And among the Graced is Katsa, who has the Grace of killing. Now required by the King, her uncle, to be his enforcer, Katsa is not especially pleased with her role in life. When she meets another Graced fighter, though, life takes an unexpected change. There are battles, cruelty, survival tests, love, and murder.

It’s one of the best written books I’ve read in quite a while. There’s a lyrical epic-poem quality to the writing, you’re easily absorbed into the story and the emotions of the characters. You feel for Katsa, a young woman required by her king to kill or maim despite she often sees that the king’s actions are wrong. Supporting characters are well defined, allowing for loving family relationships, new friends, and realistic insights into how even good people at times have only their own best interests at heart.

Well done, I’m looking forward to the sequel due out this fall.