Spotlight on Winterkeep (Kristin Cashore), Plus Excerpt!
Today we're excited to spotlight Winterkeep (Kristin Cashore).
Read on for more about Kristin and her book plus a excerpt!
Meet Kristin Cashore!
Kristin 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. Her epic fantasy novels set in the Graceling Realm—Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue—have won many awards and much high praise, including picks as ALA Best Books for Young Adults, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editors’ Choice, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. In addition, Graceling was shortlisted for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and Fire received the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award.
The highly anticipated next book in the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Graceling Realm series, which has sold 1.3 million copies.
For the past five years, Bitterblue has reigned as Queen of Monsea, heroically rebuilding her nation after her father’s horrific rule. After learning about the land of Torla in the east, she sends envoys to the closest nation there: Winterkeep–a place where telepathic foxes bond with humans, and people fly across the sky in wondrous airships. But when the envoys never return, having drowned under suspicious circumstances, Bitterblue sets off for Winterkeep herself, along with her spy Hava and her trusted colleague Giddon. On the way, tragedy strikes again–a tragedy with devastating political and personal ramifications.
Meanwhile, in Winterkeep, Lovisa Cavenda waits and watches, a fire inside her that is always hungry. The teenage daughter of two powerful politicians, she is the key to unlocking everything–but only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.
~ Excerpt ~
WINTERKEEP by Kristin Cashore
Giddon was carrying a sleeping child through a rocky tunnel when he got his first clue that something was wrong in Winterkeep.
The child’s name was Selie, she was eight, and she was not small. In fact, Giddon was starting to wonder if she was growing while he carried her. Surely she was objectively heavier now than she’d been when she’d held her arms up to him two hours ago, a gesture that hadn’t surprised him, for the children always wanted Giddon to carry them through the tunnels. He was bigger, more interesting, and less anxious than their parents, or so the children thought. Giddon was actually quite anxious during these missions for the Council, these smuggling journeys through the tunnels from Estill to Monsea, but he buried his worries deep, where they couldn’t reach his eyes or his voice. It was more helpful to seem calm and reassuring.
So he carried Selie calmly, with exhausted shoulders and dead arms, wading through streams, trying to measure the fatigue in the drawn, white faces of her family, stepping carefully from rock to crevice to stone on an uneven path lit by the lantern of Selie’s older sister, Ranie, who, at nineteen, kept giving Giddon sly, flirtatious glances. He was used to this too on these missions. He’d gotten in the habit of mentioning his beloved girlfriend frequently in conversation. Giddon didn’t have a girlfriend. It was another thing he pretended, to keep things simpler.
He put up a hand to stop Selie’s head from lolling. Children are bizarrely flexible, thought Giddon. Sometimes it seemed like her head would roll right off her body and plop onto the rocks. And Selie was the reason for this journey through the tunnels to Monsea, for she was a Graceling, Graced with mind reading. In Estill, Gracelings were the property of the new government, which exploited their special abilities however it saw fit. There were all kinds of Graces, ranging from skills as banal as imitating bird calls to more useful capacities such as speed on foot, predicting the weather, fighting, mental manipulation, or mind reading. In Monsea, where Queen Bitterblue made the rules, Gracelings were free.
The Council—which had no other official name, just the Council—was a secret international group of spies, rescuers, fighters, plotters, consultants, headed by Giddon and a few of his friends—Raffin, Bann, Katsa, Po—that came to the aid of anyone anywhere in the Seven Nations suffering unjustly under the rule of law. The Council had started small some fourteen or fifteen years ago—Katsa had started it—but now its reach was vast.
Giddon and his friends had, in fact, assisted the Estillans with the coup of their corrupt king. But then the makeshift republic that had taken the place of Estill’s monarchy had turned out to be more militarized than the Council had anticipated. And the Council never held with governments owning Gracelings.
So here Giddon was, secretly sneaking Gracelings away from the Estillan government he’d helped to establish. Trying to avoid the Estillan soldiers armed with swords and bows who had begun patrolling the Estillan forests recently, asking for the identification of anyone they met.
Giddon’s sword was heavy at his side. He found some strength to hold Selie tighter, in case she was cold. It was early May, and frigid underground. A steady trickle from a hidden ledge above had been plaguing them for the last twenty minutes and Giddon had found it hard to keep the child’s hat and scarf dry. Some two hours from now, the path would change, turn into the steady, downhill slope that would deliver them gently to the forests outside Bitterblue City. And Giddon would bring this family to the Council allies in Monsea who were awaiting them, then return himself to Bitterblue’s court. Fall into bed, sleep for a year. Then go find Bitterblue.
“Did my father remember to give you that message?” Ranie said to Giddon, speaking so quietly that he had to move closer to her, lean in.
“What message?” he said, liking, despite himself, the way voices rumbled through these tunnels, turning into whispers, like the trickling water.
“Papa?” said Ranie, turning back to speak to the balding man who plodded along resolutely behind them, a sleeping baby strapped to his front. Beside him, his wife marched with an expression on her face like she would walk forever, if that’s what it took. It was an exhausted but determined sort of expression that Giddon recognized. He suspected she was walking on blistered feet. Parents did heroic things for their children.
“Papa, didn’t you have a message for Giddon?” said Ranie.
“Oh, yes,” said the man, blinking as if waking, then seeming startled by the volume of his own voice. The tunnels could do that, lull you into a sense of being inside yourself. Conversation could seem like violence.
“It’s a message about those two Monseans whose ship went down in Winterkeep,” said the man. “You know about that ship, the Seashell?”
Giddon suddenly saw Queen Bitterblue at the door to his rooms, clutching a letter, her tear-strewn face upturned to him. Bitterblue’s envoy to Winterkeep, Mikka, and one of her advisers, Brek, had died in that shipwreck on the other side of the world. And it had been an accident—Giddon had assured her over and over, hugging her in his doorway—but still, she’d blamed herself, for she’d been the one who’d sent those men away, to a death so far from home.
“Yes,” Giddon said grimly. “I know about the drowned Monseans.”
“I’m supposed to tell you that they had some news about something called zilfium.”
“News about zilfium?” said Giddon, who found this message rather opaque. Zilfium, to the best of his memory, was a kind of fuel that was important in Winterkeep, but he couldn’t remember why. “What news?”
“I don’t know,” said the man. “I only know that they wanted to tell Queen Bitterblue some news about zilfium, but then they went sailing that day and drowned. So the queen should learn what she can about zilfium.”
“Who told you to tell me this?” said Giddon.
“The man who brought us to the start of the tunnels, where you met us,” he said. “Bann, the one who’s the consort of Prince Raffin of the Middluns. He said he had it from Prince Raffin, who had it from a letter one of the Monseans wrote to him before he drowned.”
Council messages were often passed like this—from mouth to mouth. “Did Bann give you anything for me in writing?”
“No, nothing,” said the man. “Only what I’ve said: that before that ship went down, the Monseans had wanted to tell Queen Bitterblue some news about zilfium, so maybe Queen Bitterblue should look into zilfium.”
This message was intensely annoying, and Giddon didn’t think it was merely because he was wet and exhausted and carrying a child made of lead. One, he didn’t understand it. Two, he suspected some part of it was missing. And three, the reminder of her dead men was probably going to make Bitterblue cry.
Ranie was walking close to him again, and speaking so quietly that he had to bend down to her. He began to wonder if she might be doing this on purpose.
“What’s zilfium, Giddon?” she asked.
A stream of icy water hit the back of his neck. “I’m not sure,” he said crossly.
“She is doing it on purpose,” said Selie sleepily in his ear, making him jump. He’d been sure the child was asleep.
“Doing what?” he said, somehow finding this to be the most aggravating thing yet. Mind readers!
“Ranie’s talking in a low voice so you’ll get close to her,” Selie whispered, too quietly for anyone else to hear. “Also, I know your girlfriend is imaginary.”
“Oh? And do you know you’re as heavy as a horse?”
Selie was giggling. “Don’t worry,” she whispered. “I won’t tell.”
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: January 19th, 2021