Kristin Cashore, 2008

Premise: Some people are born with a special skill; they are talented beyond normal mortals. This one is a singer, this one a dancer, this one can read minds. Katsa is a killer.

I came at this book from the reverse direction from many readers because I already read and loved Jane, Unlimited, a much more recent book by the same author. (I remember hearing some dissatisfaction that the books were so different from fans of this series.) I knew this book had awards and lots of fans. I wasn’t looking for anything beyond an entertaining and relatively easy read, and I got that and a little more.

I’ve been reluctant to read YA again recently after being burned a few times, but this was quite good. Katsa is a great character, both vulnerable and strong, thoughtful and determined. She almost unconsciously finds ways to care about people despite her own suffering and difficulties. The romance is well written and any sappiness is fully justified.

The world and the Graces are really interesting, and I didn’t even mind that they weren’t explained. The book has a lovely quality that sits halfway between a fantasy novel and a fairy tale. The Grace powers remind me of the fairies blessing Sleeping Beauty, but the plot is grounded in surviving a world where such powers are real.

Worth the hype, this was a solid read.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book


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