Graceling by Kim Cashore
Katsa has a talent for killing people, and she’s not an evil witch or nemesis in Graceling. She’s the heroine.
Graceling is set in a typical high-fantasy world of small kingdoms with a bit of magic, a few people are born with “graces”—not all are violent, some have a swimming grace or a cooking grace. But not Katsa—she’s a stone cold bad ass. She can beat up or kill anyone, and in a world without guns, nothing can stop her.
There is something very cathartic about Graceling and its killer heroine. Can you imagine—never having to fear walking alone at night, never worry about being mugged, raped, or even just pushed around, ever.
It seems there’s a run on killer girl heroines lately: Katniss in The Hunger Games, Tris in Divergent (that review to come). I hope the trend will continue. It’s a welcome change from the wimpy I’ll-curl-up-and-die-without-my-man Bella Swan from Twilight.
Katsa is such an unapologetic powerful female character that I was a little disappointed that romance played so central a role in Graceling. But even love does not weaken Katsa. She takes her lover on her terms, and he in turn is not afraid of her power, even though she can beat him up. One of the best moments is when he says her ability humbles him. It doesn’t humiliate him.
Graceling is a very freeing fantasy, and dare I say it—a feminist one. I hope books with killer heroines will inspire girls to develop their fighting skills. And why not? If the Hunger Games can inspire an interest in archery. maybe it can inspire girls to learn to be bad ass fighters too.
Girls should know how to fight. It’s a tough world out there, and you certainly can’t wait for a knight or a love sick vampire to come save you.