The Winter Duke

Little, Brown. Mar. 2020. 432p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316417341.
Gr 7 Up–Ekata is the daughter of a powerful duke, and the only one of her 13 siblings with no desire to inherit the throne. Instead, her ambition is to leave her father’s magical kingdom and study science at university. Although she is fascinated by Kylma Below, the underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic, it is not enough to keep her in an ice palace full of fratricidal siblings and distant parents. But all of Ekata’s plans change overnight when the rest of her family falls into a cursed sleep and she is forced to take on her father’s throne, her brother’s prospective bride, and a maze of intrigue she is vastly unprepared for. Unlike many fantasy heroes, Ekata shows no innate talent for ruling, for magic, or for romance. Her new role as duke does not suit her, and her failures make her a much more relatable character. Although she is smart and tenacious, she has no hidden talents to save the day and fails as often as she succeeds. Her struggles will resonate with teens who are unsure in their growing responsibilities and changing lives. At the same time, the twist-filled mystery and compelling characters will keep readers guessing and the unexpected but satisfying conclusion will delight those who long for emotional realism within a fantastical story.
VERDICT Refreshing and unique story elements abound in this magic-filled political mystery. Highly recommended for any collection that serves teens.

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