THE WINTER DUKE by Claire Eliza Bartlett

SHE SURVIVED THE CURSE. NOW SHE MUST SURVIVE THE THRONE.

All Ekata wants is to stay alive—and the chance to prove herself as a scholar. Once Ekata’s brother is finally named heir to the dukedom of Kylma Above, there will be nothing to keep her at home with her murderous family. Not her books or her 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, and no one can find a cure.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s captivating warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her 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 magic and power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield them both.


Title : The Winter Duke
Author : Claire Eliza Bartlett
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA Fantasy/LGBTQIA
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : October 13, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

I’m rounding this one up to 4 stars.

This was a YA fantasy with a historical feel. It had some foundations in Russian royal history and I enjoyed that element and this was some brutal family right here. The dukedom were out to kill one another for power, and the protagonist Ekata, felt justifiably out of the running as an insignificant daughter about to travel away to university. A curse hit and she found herself in a new position.

“Long live Her Grace.” Impossible, impossible. I was a middle child of thirteen.

This read had some great strong points, it was definitely a feminist tale. The title of Duke was genderless, power could be held equally between men and women but there’s a but. In reality, Ekata was surrounded by men who made her feel like a fool, wielded their power over her and used their gender to quash her thoughts, words and ideas.

All my life, these men had ignored me. It had never bothered me until now.

Those contrasts of what seemed to be equality and in acutality wasn’t, were frustrating for Ekata and the reader but this was the story, how Ekata navigated this. All this happened in the middle of a bride parade and Ekata chose her consort, a young woman. The romance and LGBTQ+ elements were a little weak but the protagonist was only 16 and so that did feel in the background somewhat. I would have liked this to have felt more developed, however.

I enjoyed the worlds of above and below and honestly, I read this over two days whenever I could; it had an unputdownable feel. There were elements to this story that felt unique, the magic was vague, unfathomable and mysterious, which I liked. Overall this was a good read and bonus, it was a standalone.

Thank you to Titan Books for the very pretty hardback review copy.

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