cover image The Winter Duke

The Winter Duke

Claire Eliza Bartlett. Little, Brown, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-41734-1

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. [em]Agent: Kurestin Armada, P.S. Literary. (Mar.) [/em]