**I received an ARC for this blog tour. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**
Book: The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Release Date: March 3, 2020
My Rating: 4 stars
Rep: wlw protagonist and side character/love interest, nonbinary side characters
Summary: 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.
I’m so happy to be a part of the blog tour for The Winter Duke! Today, my stop includes my review and a playlist I made for the book. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour, schedule and giveaway below!
My favorite tutor said that other people’s siblings were noisy, argumentative telltales. My siblings tried to murder one another.
I’ve been so pumped for this book since the cover reveal; I mean, just look at it! It’s gorgeous! And then I found out that this book is sapphic, and I was even more excited for it. This book did not disappoint; The Winter Duke was a slow-paced fantasy with wonderful worldbuilding and great characters.
Ekata is forced to take the throne after a mysterious illness strikes her parents and her 12 siblings. Ironically, she’s the only one of them who’s never wanted the throne so she has to figure out how to navigate this political world that she’s ignored for so long. However, she’s only provisional grand duke, so she still has to compete for the actual title against her former foster brother, Sigis.
“I could make you a ring with a diamond the same color as your eyes.”
“Gray?” Did he really think that was romantic?
My favorite part is when, since she refuses to marry Sigis, she marches into the room where all the prospective spouses from the brideshow are, and she chooses Inkar, simply because she was annoyed that she was laughing at her. Ekata immediately declares her her wife and then walks out; the gayest power move ever honestly!
Meanwhile, Ekata also has to solve the question of who cursed her family all while trying not to be assassinated. In a way, this book reminded me of Bitterblue in that she’s navigating a political world and uncovering secrets.
The worldbuilding was interesting; basically the Avenko family rules the duchy Above, and the Below is a kingdom under the lake that has magic. They’re the only ones who are in communication with the Below, so they’re the only ones who control all the magic that’s exported.
I’m an Avenko, I tried to tell myself. I was born to this.
Anyways, what I loved about this book is that from the very beginning, it is made clear that this is not a heteronormative world. Numerous nonbinary side characters are mentioned, and the brideshow consists of people of all genders. Originally the brideshow was for Ekata’s brother and then Ekata picks from the same people, and it’s never questioned. And, of course, this book features a f/f ship at the forefront.
Ekata and Inkar were amazing together! Inkar pushes her past her boundaries, and they bond quickly, despite Ekata trying to keep her at arm’s length. I really loved their dynamic! Ekata is the epitome of the awkward, oblivious science nerd, and Inkar is the soft, buff jock.
I think an unconventional grand duke deserves an unconventional consort.
My only complaint is that I was really into the first and last third of the book, but the middle third dragged a lot and not much happened, plot-wise. It is a slow-paced fantasy though, so I should have expected it.
The Winter Duke was an amazing read with normalized gay relationships, wonderful worldbuilding, and lovely characters. I definitely recommend it, especially if you want to read a sapphic fantasy!
About the Author: I am a writer and tour guide in Copenhagen, Denmark. Though I originally come from Colorado, I left the US when I was eighteen and I haven’t lived there since.
More permanent stops on my travels have included Switzerland, Wales and Denmark. The arrival of a Danish husband has somewhat cemented my living situation, but I get my travel in smaller doses these days.
I like to write fantasy, mostly, though I dabble in soft sci-fi. My short stories are more adult, my novels more YA.
I’ve studied history, archaeology, and writing. I like to take my inspiration from historical events, and the more unknown and inspiring the event, the better.
- PRIZE: 1 of 2 finished copies of The Winter Duke (US only)
- OPEN FROM: March 3, 2020 to March 18, 2020
- ENTER HERE
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