Book Review

ARC Book Review: Winterkeep (Graceling Realm #4) by Kristin Cashore

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 528 pages
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 19th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


The highly anticipated next book in the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Graceling Realm series, which has sold 1.3 million copies.

Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.

But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.

Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own.


I’m going to say it: I was disappointed in this highly anticipated release. It left me wanting many things.

First of all, there’s no way this needed to be 500+ pages. Holy wow, it just kept going and going and going with little direct focus on and overall plot. I felt spun in circles about getting to the bottom of what Bitterblue and her friends were really trying to accomplish.

This was a very nostalgic read for me. I adore the Graceling realm and had high hopes for how this world was going to continue. Even if I was let down, it was still fun to be back and to see characters I’ve missed. I did love seeing Bitterblue again. And her new love interest was sweet and I loved how their ending came about.

I enjoyed the new characters even if there were so good and bad. I also had a hard time with some of the aspects of the multiple romances. This book mostly hung out in a young adult place, but would tend to jump up to mature young adult or border new adult, but only in regards to the love scenes. It left me wondering where it was trying to go.

Lovisa was a strong addition and had a large character arc. I appreciated her resilience against what she knew was wrong even if it was hard going against those she loved. Add in some talking foxes and it was a nice whimsical touch.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs; some mild open door scenes and closed door
  • Violence: physical, kidnapping, drownings, explosions, arson, murder

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