That to say, I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Chalice from my library (I can't keep quiet about how much I LOVE that our public library lets me check out Kindle books via a Wi-Fi connection and Amazon account. It's brilliant and I've read so much more than usual, and for a book addict, that's fan-freaking-tastic). Luckily, reading Chalice was similar to my experience of reading Beauty -- I was hooked.
It drew me in from the start -- McKinley's done a wonderful job of world-building in this story, original and breath-taking. There's a bit of medieval with a lot more fantasy mixed in -- and it feels completely new. The heroine is someone I can sympathize with -- she's unsure of herself (a by-product of being young, unfortunately), thrust into a position with huge responsibility, and left to her own devices. It's the harrowing tale of growing into adulthood and learning to stand on your own two feet. Excellent character development in that aspect, and much appreciated.
There's a bit of a romance angle also, which had me guessing at every turn -- which, in the end, was the only thing I was disappointed with -- McKinley developed it beautifully and then kind of dropped the ball right at the end. I wanted to see more of a build-up to the end and instead she just treated it like a given and didn't stop to acknowledge that it was actually a thing.
I really did love it, though -- so much that I'm going to be reading her book Pegasus -- the title alone excites me!