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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.
The Winter Duke is an enchanted tale of intrigue by Claire Eliza Bartlett, author of the acclaimed young adult fantasy novel We Rule the Night.
In this queer fairy tale reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty, Ekaterina Avenko, 16, would rather move south and study medicine than remain in her family's ice palace and compete with her 12 murderous siblings for Kylma Above's throne. After much begging, she persuades her father, the Grand Duke, to let her leave; his only stipulation is that she wait until after her oldest brother, heir-elect Lyosha, chooses a consort. Eligible royals assemble, but before Lyosha can select one, every Avenko excepting Ekata falls into an unawakenable sleep. To maintain stability and forestall unwanted advances from her power-hungry foster brother, Ekata ascends as Grand Duke and picks a bride fierce, outspoken Inkar Erlyfsson from those assembled. She hopes to help create a cure for her family's illness, then discovers that they've been cursed using magic. Bartlett (We Rule the Night) delivers a feminist fantasy fraught with tension and political intrigue. Sketchy worldbuilding occasionally confuses, and not every plot twist rings true, but escalating stakes and an adrenaline-fueled pace keep the pages turning, while sharply drawn characters illustrate that there's more than one way to lead. Ages 14 up.