Read Graceling and need a refresher? Continue reading for an in-depth Sweet Evil book recap.
In the land of the seven kingdoms, there are people who are born with extraordinary powers, they are called Gracelings. Their powers have a huge range from being able to run fast to mind reading. When Gracelings with useful powers are found, they’re taken by their kings, essentially becoming slaves are feared by everyone no matter their Grace.
Katsa, our female lead, is a Graceling whose Grace is killing. Being the niece of King Randa, of the Middluns, she works for him and does his dirty work. In order to rebel against her limited freedom, Katsa created the Council. An organization of spies that fight against the seven kings cruelties. Being an orphan and being a Graceling, Katsa has had a very lonely life. Particularly when it comes to any female companions so she’s a bit rough around the edges. Katsa’s only female influence and support comes from Helda, a woman that works in the palace’s nurseries. She took to Katsa when she was young and helped her navigate the womanly mysteries.
Story starts with Katsa, Giddon (Lord from the Middluns), and Oll (King Randa’s spymaster), on a rescue mission. Katsa with her Grace takes out all of the guards and clears the way for Giddon and Oll. Once they’ve reached the prisoner’s cell, the King of Lienid’s father, Katsa has to continue on to disable any leftover guards. That’s when she comes across another Graceling, who also happened to be a Lienid, just like the Lienid grandfather they were rescuing. Katsa deals with the Graced Lienid and along with her companions, they make a safe getaway. With the help of Council allies, the trio is able to make good time to deliver their rescuee to safety and to make it to their original destination without causing any suspicion.
Prince Raffin, who’s also part of the Council and an inventor of sorts, takes over the care of the old Lienid while Katsa and her companions are off on an official mission from King Randa. Katsa is an enforcer of sorts and Giddon and Oll are her backup. Living a life of violence, Katsa isn’t always happy to have to obey her uncle and for this particular mission, she doesn’t agree with the punishment she’s been ordered to carry out. Instead of causing permanent damage, she knocks the lord unconscious and takes the money King Randa was owed.
When they return to King Randa’s court, Raff updates Katsa on the Lienid’s condition and finds out that the Graced Lienid she fought is a son of the Lienid king and happens to be at Randa’s court inquiring about his missing grandfather. Being spies, the Council is very cautious and doesn’t disclose any information until the Lienid grandfather wakes up. Katsa is also ordered to attend a fancy dinner upon their return, where Randa likes to belittle Katsa and also parade her around to instill further fear on his subjects. Katsa was already having very questioning thoughts about her uncle, and with that dinner, she wasn’t able to keep it together through his verbal assaults and excuses herself from the table. She runs away to a place of comfort, the archery range, to work out some of her anger and ends up being followed by Prince Greening Grandmelion or Prince Po for short. He strikes up a conversation that ultimately ends up with them fighting which surprisingly makes Katsa trust him enough to tell him about his grandfather.
During Prince Po’s time at court, he learns about the work the Council does and wants its help to find out who’s responsible for his grandfather’s kidnapping. He also convinces Katsa to train with him and they begin to get to know one another with all the time they spend together. With all of her travels, Katsa has never been to Lienid and is fascinated by everything she hears about it from Po and from his grandfather, Tealiff, once he wakes up.
When King Randa sends Katsa, Giddon, and Oll to another mission, this time to visit a neighboring lord of Giddon’s, things culminate for Katsa. She’s ordered to inflict pain because Lord Ellis refuses to pick one of his daughters to marry off to a nasty Nanderan underlord. Since their mission takes them near Giddon’s estate, they stay there and Giddon makes his feelings for Katsa known. Going back to her not being well versed in female matters, she found it hard to believe that Giddon would DARE to fall in love with her and for him to expect her to accept what he sees for her future. During their fight, a previous conversation Katsa had with Po about Giddon’s feelings comes back to her and she makes a shocking realization about Po. He’s a mind reader.
Graced mind readers are the most revered, by kings, and feared by all. The discovery of Po’s grace angers Katsa because she felt lied to. Betrayed. Exposed. When she confronts Po, she hardly lets him explain himself and won’t listen to him when he asks for her help to find the responsible party for his grandfather’s kidnapping. While dealing with this discovery, she also has to deal with the aftermath of her disobedience of her uncle’s orders. When she’s summoned to the throne room, she walks into a room full of armed guards who are to escort her to the dungeons. She very clearly tells her uncle that if his men try to touch her, she will kill them all which leaves them at an impasse until she tells him that she’s leaving court and to never follow her. With that and disregarding her feelings about Po’s Grace, she leaves her life behind and journeys with Po to Sunder to continue looking for the kidnapper(s).
On the journey to Sunder, Katsa has time to assimilate Po’s Grace and asks many questions to understand the limitations of it. Through it all, Po is so very understanding and does everything in his power to help her feel comfortable with him again. Katsa is able to see how different Po is compared to every other man she knows. He’s not intimidated by her. He’s not afraid to look her in the eyes. He admits that she’s a better fighter and hunter than he. He also tries to get her to see her own strengths and attributes in good lighting instead of the derogatory light her uncle has taught her. Feelings start to be noticed. All of that completely confuses Katsa.
When they make a stop at an inn, Po and Katsa make a very startling discovery about King Leck of Monsea. Based on some things that Katsa had told Po about Queen Ashen’s behavior, he had some doubts which made him want to pay Monsea a visit. After the conversation they had with the merchants at the inn, Po figured out that King Leck is also a Graceling with the possible Grace of confusing people with lies.
During the last part of their journey before reaching Monsea, Katsa finally becomes aware of her feelings for Po and Po’s feelings for her and she refuses to accept them. It takes her days, battling with the notions of what’s expected of women and what her own heart wants. When Po tries to explain to her that he doesn’t expect her to change, she doesn’t believe him. She’s too afraid that she just broke free from her uncle’s control to now be under the control of the man she loves. Time after time, Po tries to tell Katsa that he loves her and knows her mind so he wouldn’t expect her to change. He’ll take her for as long as she’s willing to give herself to him. After a lot of thinking, Katsa finally gives in to her feelings for Po and that makes them a very formidable team.
As Katsa continues to learn about Po’s Grace and how to communicate with him without talking, Po begins to make observations about Katsa’s own Grace and suspects it isn’t killing. Po’s Grace is growing and changing, allowing him to see more than just thoughts and Katsa’s Grace turns out to be survival. Through the mountains to get to Monsea, they further explore their Graces. After many days through the mountains, they finally break through and come to find Queen Ashen being chased by horseback riders with King Leck leading the way. With his Grace, Po is able to discern what’s happening and tells Katsa to shoot at the king but she hesitates and Queen Ashen is killed right in front of them.
With this one “interaction”, Po knows for sure that King Leck IS a Graceling and that Po is immune to it because of his own Grace but Katsa isn’t. Since they failed to save Queen Ashen, Po struggles to convince Katsa to run away with him to get as far as possible from the king. King Leck sees their behavior and understands that Po is immune to his Grace and pursues them. Once they’re enough far away, Po explains to Katsa what it is that they witnessed and go away from. He also tells her things that he was able to gather from Queen Ashen’s thoughts about his cousin, Bitterblue, is hidden somewhere in the forest, and thanks to his growing Grace they were able to find her.
King Leck is relentless in the search for Bitterblue and Po and Katsa have to split up in order to keep Bitterblue and Katsa safe. Po has to go out on his own and try to kill the king or get rid of the searching parties so that they can get Bitterblue out of Monsea. Things don’t go according to plan. King Leck surrounds himself with other Gracelings and Po has a very hard time getting rid of the guards and is badly injured. It’s paramount that Bitterblue is kept safe that Po convinces Katsa to make a run for it with Bitterblue and to leave him behind. After much debate, Katsa finally accepts this. They find a place for Po to hide in and Katsa gathers food for him so he won’t starve while he recovers. Katsa and Bitterblue have to go south to the sea and travel to Lienid for help and Po gives Katsa his castle’s ring, which means that they’ll be able to find help from any Lienid.
The true nature of Katsa’s Grace is put to the test in their escape. With very harsh conditions, and against all odds, Katsa is able to get Bitterblue through the wintery mountains and inot the Sunder forest. There Katsa was able to use Council allies to get shelter and help. After having a meal, bath, and getting new clothes and supplies, Katsa and Bitterblue continue onto the coast to find a ship that will take them Lienid. With the help of Po’s ring, they find a ship that agrees to take them to Lienid. Aboard the ship, Katsa finds out what it meant for Po to give her his ring. She learns that with the ring, he has abdicated his throne and inheritance to Katsa. While sailing to Leinid, Katsa took the opportunity to teach Bitterblue some self-defense and knife work to help her defend herself.
When they finally arrived in Lienid, Katsa asked Captain Faun to keep her crew out in sea after they delivered Katsa and Bitterblue to prevent anyone that might’ve been in Monsea and has had contact with King Leck finding out that Katsa and Bitterblue are now in Lienid. However, that precaution was in vain.
When they arrive at Po’s castle, Katsa and Bitterblue find that they’re being waited on. Once they’re led inside, they find Po’s family is gathered along with King Leck, who wastes no time and uses his Grace to spin a web of lies. Katsa immediately falls for the lies and with Bitterblue’s help is able to not disclose the truth about what happend to Po or his whereabouts. It’s not until Leck tries to get Katsa to tell Po’s family about the truth of his Grace that Katsa is finally able to fight off Leck’s compulsion and kills him. The royal family and their guards try to arrest Katsa for killing Leck but Bitterblue steps in. It takes a while for Leck’s spell to wear off and that’s when all the lies he told start coming apart. Once they hear of the true story, starting from Grandfather Tealiff’s kidnapping to Bitterblue’s escape, King Ror puts his affairs in order and sails out to Monsea with Katsa and Bitterblue.
Once in Monsea, Katsa is desperate to head out to search for Po. Using royal resources to conduct the search for Po, made way for more comforts along the way but that drove Katsa crazy. But with the help of royal resources, they were able to start undoing all of Leck’s lies since they lingered even after his death. When Po was finally found, it wasn’t the reunion that Katsa was waiting for. Po was different. Off somehow. Even Bitterblue was able to tell there was something wrong. It wasn’t until Katsa looked back at all of his injuries and figured out that he lost his sight.
Katsa was so upset that he made her leave him behind without sight. He told her of how little by little his Grace took the place of his sight. His Grace had already been growing and after losing his eyesight, it grew even more. He might not be able to see colors but he can sense everything around him. Overwhelming at times. It’s because of his Grace that he was able to fool everyone, including his brother, Skye.
Skye, Bitterblue, Katsa, and Po spent quite a while in the mountains. Katsa helped train Po back to his fighting standards and continue teaching Bitterblue. They didn’t travel back to the city until it was time for Bitterblue’s coronation and they return to the cabin after the coronation.