Kristin Cashore


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

April 25, 2021

interkeep is the fourth book in the Graceling Realm series. Winterkeep could be read as a stand alone novel, but the first three books in the series are excellent; I suggest starting at the begining with Graceling and reading all four. Hopefully, Cashore is writing another book in the series. Book 3 of the series, Bitterblue, came out in 2012, so if there will be a fifth novel, it is likely to be quite a while before it is published.

Bitterblue (the heroine from book 3 of this series) is the queen of the nation of Monsea. Monseans have learn that a new continent exists to the East. Trade has begun with the nation of Winterkeep. Monseas have silver mines, but the Keepians are surprisingly eager to buy even the tailings from the silver mine. Bitterblue has two envoys in Winterkeep, but after a cryptic communication regarding "ziflium" is received, contact with the envoys is cut off under worrisome circumstances - there is a rumor that the envoys drowned at sea. Bitterblue decides to personally visit Winterkeep to understand the truth of what happened. She brings along Giddon, a trusted Middluns lord, and she brings along her half-sister, Hava, who is a Graceling - Hava has the ability to change her appearance, so when people look at her, they see something else entirely. Hava is really good at spying.

The citizens of Winterkeep do not have Gracelings, but they have other amazing abilities. They can fly airships powered by a secret chemical called varane. The citizens of Winterkeep can bond with intelligent. telepathic blue foxes. Off the coast of Winterkeep are more telepathic creatures: manatee-esque creatures called silbercows. Winterkeep scientists have discovered a way to convert zilfium into a powerful energy source, which will give them great advantage against the other nations of the Torla continent. It turns out that the silver mine tailings that the Winterkeep traders were buying were rich in zilfium; unknown to Bitterblue and the Monseans, they were trading away a valuable resource for bargain prices.

The novel introduces the character of Lovisa Cavenda. She is a student at a private Winterkeep Academy. Her parents are the two leading political leaders in Winterkeep - her mother, Ferla, is the Prime Minister and the leader of the environmentally-conscious Scholar Party. Lovisa's father, Benni, is the leader of the Industrial Party. Lovisa's are opponents in the public sphere, but Lovisa begins to detect that there is something secret and possibly sinister going on in her own house. Her parents, publicly at odds, seem to be involved in a complicated and illegal scheme - but exactly what are they up to?

The plot of Winterkeep is intricate and well-thought. All the characters have believable motivations and personalities. There is a lot of mystery to the story - what are Benni and Ferla up to? What really happened to the Monsean envoys? Has Katu really left on a long journey throughout the Torla continent, did he really just disappear without saying goodbye?

The blue foxes are my favorite part of Winterkeep, especially Adventure Fox, who is bonded to Ferla. Being bonded, Adventure Fox can read Ferla's mind, and although Ferla's thoughts and schemes don't always make sense to a fox, the underlying emotions and ideas are readily interpreted. What Adventure Fox learns causes him a good deal of concern, but a bonded fox never betrays its master.

The world building is well done. The Winterkeep society is learning technology. It has wealth from its airships and other trading policies. I also liked the character development, even secondary characters seem fleshed out. I found myself staying up late to read "just another chapter." I finished the book in a few days - which is just as well, because I am sure that I would not be able to renew a library book as popular as this one.