Featured Review: The Winter Duke (Claire Eliza Bartlett)
About This Book:
An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke's daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.
When Ekata's brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family's icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.
In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother's warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love...or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family's power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.
Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what's right in the face of danger.
*Review Contributed By Olivia Farr Staff Reviewer*
THE WINTER DUKE is a thrilling YA fantasy that takes place in a world where magic is controlled by a single dukedom. Ekata is a middle daughter of the Grand Duke who controls the flow of magic through the world Above. He is the only one who can travel Below, where another realm of creatures live. Ekata is a budding scientist, and as such, the world Below has always intrigued her. However, knowing this is not possible to explore, she has set her sights on getting away from her family and their selfish cruelty and going to study in the South.
Everything changes when her father and brother (heir apparent) but heads during the bride show. Ekata does not flee when she supposes she should have, and now her whole family has fallen under a curse, where they are seemingly drowning in their slumber. As the only one left awake, she must assume the position of Grand Duke. Trying to avoid a cruel man who wants to marry her to assume her power, she ties herself to one of the brides there for her brother and launches into the coronation challenges to keep the power for her family.
This book is absolutely fascinating, and I love the world-building around this dukedom. Magic also has a powerful, dangerous, and rich quality that adds some flair to this unique icy world- mirroring many of the people who live in it. My favorite part of the book is the LGBT romance and characters who are gender fluid, plus men and women coming for the bride show with this all seeming totally normal. There's a nice side plot of romance between Ekata and another woman. This book is unapologetically LGBT forward and feminist in a way that I truly enjoyed. I could easily get lost in this fascinating world.
There is mystery, danger, romance, plots, and challenges to keep interest throughout this book. I'd say there's a little something for everyone here, and I would totally be up for sequels within this wonderfully dangerous place. The writing is gripping, easily pulling the reader to get lost in this other place. I would highly recommend for lovers of engrossing and unique YA fantasy.
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