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Winterkeep (Graceling Realm #4)
Something is rotten in the heart of Winterkeep…
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.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
(3.5 / 5) Many times I felt lost as to the point of the story. It was overly long, to the point that I was confused in putting details together. So much was unnecessary.
It added some higher fantasy elements (animals as protagonists) that threw me a bit and I never quite grew to appreciate them.
Lovisa was a new character and I struggled with her for the first half of the book. She was promiscuous and used sex in such an unhealthy way, it felt too much for YA. The sex was more detailed also. Most of the characters we know and love are into their 20’s now so their lives and choices are more adult. Lovisa was 16 and her escapades were more detailed. I was confused on where this was supposed to be labeled and not sure how well the YA genre holds.
I did end up liking the last 25% or so and that redeemed the book a bit for me. However, I never felt endeared to Lovisa and waited for Bitterblue to come back. And where were Katsa and Po? Sigh. I missed them.
All in all it was entertainment but needed to be shorter and more to the point.
Content Summary: Once again, the sex was more detailed and the teen was very promiscuous. The adults in the story had sex also but it was less detailed. I don’t love that as book 4, the sex was more apparent in a teen series we’ve come to expect certain aspects from. There are quite a few aspects of parental abuse and neglect that may be difficult for some.
Thank you to Penguin Teen for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. This book is out January 19, 2021.
Detailed Content Review
Derogatory terms etc-
Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking
A woman takes a tea that reduces anxiety but also it’s not recommended to make big decisions while on it. It makes her act silly and enlarges her pupils. She later drinks it for a boat ride.
Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty
*Very minor LGBTQ+ aspects included*
A woman offers her baby her breast.
‘I like a woman with a temper,’ in this creepy way that made it clear he was talking about sex.”
A woman asks a man if he’s in love with a man. He is.
A woman has had quite a few partners. At one point she worries she’s pregnant. She would not want this man’s baby.
A man accuses a woman of using him. She loved exploring his body and learning what made him “sing.” She claims to have been a generous lover.
A young woman and man meet in the attic and kiss passionately. She claims to have done this before to understand when others talk about sex. She feels him grow hard. They stop and separate then she pulls him to her and sticks his hand in her robe to massage her breast. She understands the wanting of sex. After (sex implied), they talk of doing it again. She drinks a tea to avoid pregnancy. Then kisses him again and they have sex again.
A young woman uses sex to her advantage many times. She acts like she wants it or even has it with some, only to get something else she wants.
A young woman puts a young man’s hand in her coat to feel her hard nipples. He kisses her throat. “This had better be one good screw.” The young man gropes her body.
A young woman asks a young man to sleep with her cause she can’t fall asleep.
A young girl hears women talking about sex with their husbands and men who aren’t their husbands.
A young woman comes in late from having obvious sex with her boyfriend.
A married couple have sex.
A young woman and young man have sex. When he’s done she decides she’s not done so tells him so. He “positioned her legs just so, and began to apply his tongue to her, so gently that her body sang out in wonderment. The pleasure rose slowly, became almost overwhelming, then became shattering.” They discuss their friendship that now involves sex. He wants sex again in the morning. They have sex. She drinks preventative tea.
“Balls!” “Like a man’s scrotum!” Says a woman. “We call it kittens,” said Lovisa. “Because they’re so delicate.”
A man and woman kiss. He said his blood was definitely rushing somewhere away from his head and she asked where? They kissed more. He said he was afraid to “sex-touch” her cause they’ve been friends for so long. She trails her fingers down his body to the inside of his thigh and asks him if he knows about “kittens?” (Referring to his scrotum). They kiss more and he kisses her neck. Sex is assumed but no more details.
A married man and woman kiss and “gave her the pleasure she wanted.”
A young woman asks a man if he’d ever had sexual jealousy.
A man and woman joke and leave abruptly. Sex is assumed.
A man slides his hand up a woman’s top. She said he was wearing too many clothes and loves sliding his pants over his hips. They kiss. Sex is assumed.
A woman kisses a man.
A young woman wonders if a young woman is flirting with her.
Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood
Two men attack a man while swimming. He thrashes around then goes limp and they take him.
A mother slaps her young child for crying. She then pulls her teen daughter by her hair and calls her a slut.
A woman is kept captive and locked in a room. Food and water is very sparse.
Two men are suspected to be forcefully drowned.
Two parents kill a young man and wrap his body in a blanket. They put heavy chains on his feet and put him in the water.
A mother punishes younger brothers for their older sister’s indiscretions.
A young woman lights a house of fire.
A young woman hits a woman in the head with a shovel.
A man and woman previously killed a man.
An animal makes a woman fall and break bones then pushes on her neck until she dies.
A man punches a man in the face then hits him with the hilt of his sword, dropping him unconscious.
A grenade is thrown and kills 3. Many are injured or trapped. Two men fight with swords. A man knocks another out with a punch.
**SPOILER**A very unkempt man is found locked in a cave. He was malnourished and locked in there for months.
A woman stabs a man’s hand with a knife and kicks him in the groin. A man punches a nan.
Potentially Intense Themes
Two men drown in a ship wreck.
A woman falls overboard and nobody notices. She starts to drown.
A mother locks misbehaving children in a fully furnished room. When she’s really mad, she puts them in with only flint and a candle but nothing else.
A woman trips down stairs and one of her legs is broken and twisted.
A young woman’s mother has died. Grief overtakes her for a short time.
A very unkempt man is found locked in a cave.
**Any quotes from the book are taken from the advanced copy and therefore may not be fully accurate or correctly compare to the final copy of the book.
**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.