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Kristin Cashore

Kristin CashoreKristin Cashore grew up in the northeast Pennsylvania countryside as the second of four daughters. She received a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and a master’s from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, and she has worked as a dog runner, a packer in a candy factory, an editorial assistant, a legal assistant, and a freelance writer. She has lived in many places (including Sydney, New York City, Boston, London, Austin, and Jacksonville, Florida), and she currently lives in the Boston area. Graceling, her first book, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Learn more at Kristin Cashore’s blog.


Graceling: A breath of fresh air in the YA genre

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I had heard the buzz surrounding Kristin Cashore's Graceling and my curiosity was piqued. Sitting down to read, I hoped that it hadn't been over-hyped, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself reading a fast-paced, intriguing fantasy novel with a wonderfully real and sympathetic female protagonist — which is rarer than you might think.

The world in which Katsa lives has amidst its population people known as Gracelings: individuals with extraordinary, but rather arbitrary talents. Identified by their mismatched eyes, their gifts can range from mind reading to super-sensory hearing to simply being a strong swimmer. The Gracelings are feared by their neighbors and exploited by their kings, and Katsa is no exception, particularly since her own Grace is the skill of killing.

She lives under the command of her uncle, King Randa of the Middluns, w... Read More

Fire: An excellent sequel to Graceling

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Fire follows Kristin Cashore’s debut novel Graceling, which garnered quite a lot of praise from reviewers, including this one. A coming-of-age tale set in the Seven Kingdoms, where some are born with a particular “grace” or talent, Graceling focused on Katsa, whose grace seemingly is death. Many readers loved Katsa’s fiercely strong and independent character, as well her compatriots Po and Princess Bitterblue; loved to hate the creepy villain; and found the idea of Graces intriguing and ripe with potential. By the end, it was clear there was more to tell about this land and these characters.

So what does Kristin Cashore do for a follow-up? She writes a story set decades earlier in a different, but neighboring land about wholly different people (save one, and that appearance is relatively b... Read More

Bitterblue: Cashore delivers great YA heroines

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue is the third book in Kristin Cashore’s series that began with Graceling and continued with Fire, both excellent novels (I gave them 5 stars and 4.5 stars respectively). Bitterblue is not quite as good, but the drop-off is slight, resulting in another strong read and a more than satisfying continuation.

Bitterblue picks up some years after Graceling. The murderous, tyrannical King Leck has been dead for years and now Bitterblue, as Queen of Monsea, is trying to put her kingdom back together. Her first step toward becoming a true queen, however, is when she leaves her castle refuge and steps out into the streets of her city to engage with real people. Soon, she’s finding things aren’t quite what she thought they wer... Read More

Winterkeep: Return to a favorite series not fully successful

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore

(2021) is the fourth book set in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING REALM fantasy world, the prior novels being Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue. The first was a five-star, best-of-the-year choice for me, and Fire was nearly as good. The third book was a bit of a drop-off, though not far. Unfortunately though, Winterkeep continues that downward trend, leaving me, I confess, more than a little disappointed, though the book does end well.

In the past, Cashore has eschewed the traditional sequel mode of following the same char... Read More