Kristen Cashore’s debut novel, for want of a more eloquent description, made me happy. As a girl who grew up reading Alanna and Obernewtyn, Katsa felt like an old friend. Feeling trapped in her home because of a Grace she didn’t ask for, Katsa’s journey (gosh I hate that word, ‘journey’)is as much about realising that she has control over her own actions than any of the plot itself. I’ve read a few reviews commenting on the general anti-male characteristics of the book, and looking back, I laugh at how true that is. Yet Cashore does present male character’s whom Katsa is able to form friendships with, such as her cousin Raffin, the ever beautiful Graceling Prince Po, and various others along the way.

I adored Cashore’s new take on the magic/gift theme. Grace’s allowed the novel to be fantastical, without feeling like Hogwarts or Edward Cullen was only around the corner – as so many YA Fantasy novels do these days.

Yes, it was mostly predictable (including the romance). Yes, it is just another take on the ‘I’m a girl and I just happen to have more power than just about anyone else in the world’ fantasy novel. Yes, the behaviour of the 10-year old seemed increasingly implausible. BUT, after the first three chapters, I couldn’t put it down. I laughed at Katsa’s social awkwardness, and I went all gooey at Po’s suave seduction.

Take it for what it is, a great new book in its genre from an author with exciting potential! I definitely recommend it, and am excited to read the companion book, Fire.

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