[Book Review] Graceling by Kristin Cashore



2/5 stars

In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.

Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?

The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king…

To be honest, I have a bone to pick with the Publisher’s Weekly quote at the top of the cover in the version I have. It reads, “[This] exquisitely drawn romance . . . will slake the thirst of Twilight fans.” The comparisons drawn between this book and Twilight are thin at the very best, but otherwise, that’s just like comparing the sun with the moon.

Anyway — I was disappointed with this book, I won’t lie. After hearing so many good things about it, after reading many five-star reviews, I thought I was going to love this one. Part of the reason I’ve marked this so low is probably because my expectations were so high, and it’s very rare that when something has been hyped up as much as this has been that it’ll actually reach my expectations. If I’d picked this book up simply because of the bad-ass looking girl on the cover, I might had have rated it higher, but I didn’t, and the whole novel just fell flat. Don’t get me wrong — this wasn’t completely awful or anything.

The characters were great. Katsa is independent and bad-ass; Po was likeable.

The world-building decent.

The storyline enjoyable enough.

So what didn’t I like this novel? I didn’t hate it, for sure, but neither was it what I expected, either.

giphy (6)


But it’s no different from any other fantasy I’ve read. Not really. I loved the idea of the Graced, and I felt as though the author could have done something more with it instead of what happened. I also felt constricted with the point of view, too. Written in close first person, I found myself wishing to explore other character’s point of view — for example Po’s. This is a spoiler-free review, but at times when Katsa and Po separated their ways, I wanted to follow Po’s side of the story, too, not just Katsa’s.

I didn’t particularly feel as though King Leck’s character was properly characterised in a way that meant to have a negative effect on the reader. I knew what I was supposed to feel toward him, that I was supposed to dislike his character, but I didn’t, which was another disappointing aspect of the story. The bad guy, or the villain, didn’t feel villainous enough for me.

Graceling, despite the fact that it hasn’t been my most favourite fantasy books I’ve read this year, was really well written. Cashore is a definitely talented author for sure, though this book did not appeal to me enough to make me want to read the next in the series. In saying that, I think she has a wonderfully fluid writing style with a pace that made me want to find out next. That was one of the things that I did like about this book: I was never bored. I was always willing to turn the page and find out what would happen to Katsa next. But unfortunately this is not a fantasy book I would recommend.


9 thoughts on “[Book Review] Graceling by Kristin Cashore

  1. I really liked ‘Graceling’ and its sequels – well, except perhaps for ‘Bitterblue’, the last one, which I found a bit overlong – and I thought Katsa was a great character. As for King Leck and his evil ways… well. Let’s just say if you ever do get to the other books in the series, King Leck gets a heck of a lot more villainous. It’s been a while since I read the books, but I think the true extent of Leck’s evil is revealed in the sequels. I enjoyed your review. It’s a shame when books let us down because of hype.

  2. I kind of tried this one…I mean, I read the first page on Amazon at one point and decided not to borrow it from the library. But I shouldn’t judge a book on ONE PAGE. That doesn’t seem fair. lol. ;) SO. I do plan to read this eventually, but fantasy in that sort of strain isn’t my usual pick, soooo….yup. Also, how weird is it to compare it to Twilight?!! That’s a hugely different genre jump. Odd.

  3. I personally think it is a matter of taste. It might not be your cup of tea, but it might appeal to others. After all, it has a reason for being famous. Though Graceling isn’t that high on my favourite books’ list.
    Nice review here, Kara. :)

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