Having finished The Winter Duke I can only say, it’s queer and has merpeople. Are you hooked yet? I’m so exited to bring you a book review of The Winter Duke, one of my most intriguing queer 2020 releases.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I was completely absorbed by The Winter Duke. From the beginning, Bartlett makes sure we know that the world Ekata grows up in is one of murder, betrayal, and suspicion. Ekata trusts practically no one, and can you blame her? Her family, and their kingdom, is built on murder, barely concealed treason, and days where you are lucky to be alive. Described as part Sleeping Beauty, Ekata is left with the responsibility to figure out if she can both figure out how to save her family and how to rule.
World Building and Queer Love Interests
The Winter Duke quickly shows its fangs. And in this world of dangerous cold, blades in the middle of the night, and sweet words with cruel intentions, can Ekata do what it takes to survive? I loved the world building in The Winter Duke. Merpeople and underwater worlds are my current obsession and The Winter Duke delivers both. A magical world of merpeople, pearls, and monsters that hunt in the dark. Not to mention the Ekata’s world is entirely balanced on a frozen sheet of ice separating them. A world of deadly roses.
I first found out about The Winter Duke when someone told me it was a queer story. This has to be my second favorite part of The Winter Duke. Firstly, this world has absolutely no qualms about queer relationships, no eyelashes batted, no reservations about a queer ruling couple. That was instantly a great sign. But the queer love interest could be my favorite character. I don’t want to spoil, but I feel like as soon as you meet them, you’ll know what I mean.
Ekata was one of those tricky characters. My heart instantly went out for her. She just wants to go to university and study. Fiercely curious, she wants no part of this murderous game her family plays for power. Thrown head first into power, she has a huge learning gap, especially as basically everyone is plotting against her in some way. She’s in the middle of people who want everything from her and tell her nothing. That being said, Ekata’s bound to make a mistake, or series of mistakes.
And she truly doesn’t want to rule. Some might say she’s the best person for the job then. Through Ekata and her character development, Bartlett asks us how we manage power and magic, responsibility and greed. Just because we have power, does that mean we rule with an iron first? Tightly clenched around power born from blood and quenched hope?
The Winter Duke has unique world building, a queer romance story line, and is full of political intrigue. It’s one I would recommend to anyone who loves new takes on classic fairy tales, strong and complex heroines, and those who love underwater worlds. I would take a whole other book just on the world Below.
Prize: Win (1) of (2) finished copies of THE WINTER DUKE by Claire Eliza Bartlett (US Only)
Starts: 3rd March 2020
Ends: 18th March 2020a Rafflecopter giveaway
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.
I am represented by Kurestin Armada of P.S. Literary.
To keep up with what strange things I’m researching and writing, you can sign up for my newsletter here. I send out a short newsletter once a month.
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