The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett — ARC Review

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza BartlettSummary:

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: 4 Stars

I was very excited when I first received an ARC of The Winter Duke and I had very high hopes for this book, but as it got closer to publication I started to fear that it might disappoint. I am very pleased to say that I really wound up loving this book. The Winter Duke was a political fantasy with well written characters and a plot so full of schemes and betrayal that I never knew who to trust. This story grabbed my attention right away and I had a really hard time walking away from it. I finished the book in less than a day.

Ekata was such an interesting character to have at the center of this story. She was so impulsive that I never knew what to expect. I found myself rooting for her every step of the way, but I also just wanted to shake her throughout most of the book because her decisions kept making a giant mess of everything. She was a well fleshed out character and she felt pretty real, but I felt like her character arc wasn’t as great. The changes in her seemed to happen suddenly and not throughout the course of the whole book. I felt like she acted impulsive and reckless for a lot of the story and then right when everything was about to fall to pieces she thought things through a bit more.

The plot was… wild. I was suspicious of everyone and I had no idea who to trust because it seemed like betrayal was around every corner. But a lot of the things that went wrong felt like they were because of Ekata’s rule. I felt like she was unprepared to rule and was messing a lot of things up, yet I couldn’t help but be on her side at the same time. The ending also felt a little too perfect for me. It felt a bit unrealistic and unlikely, yet at the same time it was how I wanted the story to end. So I guess I’m a little conflicted about the plot, but I think that is what made it so great. I was just so invested in the whole story.

I can’t forget to mention the coolest part of this story, which was the world building. It was just so incredibly magical. Kylma Above and Below were both just so fascinating and the way magic worked was so fascinating. I was so skeptical about this book by the time that I picked it up, but when I saw the first use of magic I knew that I was completely hooked. Kylma Below was actually a whole world underwater, and I can’t even describe how incredibly magical it was. I’m totally here for a spin off set in Kylma Below. The descriptions were so vivid and amazing, yet the story was also pretty dark. Everything was fleshed out so well and I could picture the entire story like a movie. Truly a brilliant job and lived up to my initial expectations. I think that so many books I got excited about had disappointed me that I was sure this book would as well, but wow, this story was every bit as dark and magical as I wanted it to be.

Overall I have to say that this was an incredibly fun book to read and I think that it was so much fun because I never knew what to expect. But also I feel like my problems with this book were because Ekata was too impulsive and I didn’t agree with her decisions a lot of the time. Honestly, despite any issues I had with the book I would highly recommend it because I was so invested in this story and these characters that I wanted Ekata to make all the right decisions, yet I love her for all her flaws.

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