USA, Canada, UK)
By Kristin Cashore (Blog)
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1st edition (October 1, 2008)
Hardcover: 480 pages
Graceling, is the story of Katsa, who has been able to kill people with her bare hands since she was eight. Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, where very occasionally, a person is born with an extreme skill called a Grace. Gracelings are feared and exploited in the seven kingdoms, and none more so than Katsa, who's expected to do the dirty work of torture and punishment for her uncle, King Randa. But then she meets a mysterious stranger named Po, who is also a Graced fighter and the first person ever to challenge her in a fight. The two form a bond, and each discovers truths they never imagined about themselves, each other, and a terrible danger that is spreading slowly through the seven kingdoms.
This is a coming-of-age story with a bit of romance. The type of fantasy that is right up my alley! This is Kristin Cashore's first fiction novel, and the recipient of several accolades including Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year (Children's Fiction) and Booklist's 2008 Top Ten First Novels for Youth. It is a standalone (no cliffhanger, another plus) but there are two more books in the works that will be set in the same world, one a prequel and the other a sequel. For more information I suggest reading the reviews by Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, Graeme's Fantasy Book Review and The Book Swede. Looks like a book I would definitely enjoy.
I like the sound of this one as well. The cover is awesome. It seems a bit dark for YA, but it seems that YA is getting darker these days. Plus the author lives in my hometown! How cool is that? To get to the excerpt, click the above link and then look for the "Excerpt" link on the left side of the page, just under the image. It doesn't appear to be possible to link to it directly.