When a magical curse leaves Ekata’s family as good as dead, she is forced to take up the mantle of Grand Duke of Kylma Above.
Ekata is days from leaving her violent, scheming family for university when disaster strikes. Someone has put the grand duke and all his heirs, except for her, into a deathlike sleep. The intrigue begins unfolding immediately and draws readers through to the last page, as they and Ekata both try to figure out who can be trusted. Ekata begins her reign as a puppet of the prime minister but shocks everyone by marrying the foreign princess Inkar instead of the arrogant king Sigis. In response, Sigis decides to take the duchy by force, adding yet another headache for Ekata as she confronts internal and external threats to the duchy. The story of the princess who would rather read books than marry a prince is standard fare by now, yet Bartlett (We Rule the Night, 2019) makes her version feel largely fresh and filled with magic and personality as Ekata learns to be a strong leader by doing what must be done. She and Inkar begin to fall in love after their abrupt marriage, yet their romance is gentle and believable. All the principal characters in this pseudo-Nordic ice kingdom are white, with one secondary character, Ekata’s supportive teacher Farhod, having dark skin.
An enchanting queer fairy tale. (Fantasy. 14-adult)