Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Number of Pages: 480
Advertised Age Level: Young Adult
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 18 years/NA
Language: no profanity
Sex: main characters have sex that is not graphically described
Drug/Alcohol Use: none
Violence: extreme – main characters are fighters and kill their enemies
Social Issues: independence, standing up for one’s self, doing what’s right, first love, protecting the weak, xenophobia, discrimination, abuse of power
Suggested Movie Grade: PG-13
Premise: In the fantastical world of the Seven Kingdoms, Katsa is a Graceling, a human being gifted with special powers known as her grace. No one graceling’s powers are like another’s, and Katsa’s particular skill set is killing people. Unbeatable in battle, Katsa’s ruthless uncle, King Randa, uses her to serve as his ultimate weapon, to instill fear and obedience in his subjects and to punish his enemies. While Katsa hates being what she sees as no more than a monster, she knows no other way of living, no way out.
In an effort to do some good with her ability, Katsa establishes the Council, a secret society determined to help those who need it. During a mission to rescue the father of one of the seven kings, Katsa meets Prince Po. Po is also a graceling, and his gift is incredible fighting abilities. Finally Katsa has found someone who can come close to beating her. At first wary of Po, Katsa soon comes to respect him, then befriend him, and to her dismay, develop strong feelings about him.
Together Katsa and Prince Po travel the kingdoms searching for the reason behind the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather. What they learn is a horrible secret that threatens to bring harm to every person in their world. Too, they also each learn something about their own graces, and Katsa learns how to trust both herself and other people.
Potential Points of Concern: Both Katsa and Po are fighters who do not hesitate to kill those who threaten them. Katsa has also engaged in torture in the name of her uncle, King Randa. The story contains violence throughout although none of it highly graphic.
Katsa and Po consummate their relationship, however the episode is very vague and non-explicit.
The bad guy that Katsa and Po pursue, King Leck, is very evil. He tortures small animals and people and, it is implied, may engage in acts of pedophile and/or rape. No specific incident is described in detail but the implications are very strong.
The dangers that Katsa and Po encounter are very intense and life threatening. Sensitive readers may not be able to handle the level of suspense.
Age Appropriateness: Ages 13 and up