Lea (drumsofautumn)'s Reviews > Winterkeep

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
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it was amazing
bookshelves: most-anticipated-2021, read-2021, top-books-of-2021



1.) Graceling ★★★★★
2.) Fire ★★★★★
3.) Bitterblue ★★★★★

“It had taken her so long to give up that key, the key to her cage. But it was a cage that no longer existed, because she’d destroyed it, by herself.”

I have been a huge fan of the Graceling Realm Trilogy ever since I first read it after Bitterblue's release. The series means a lot to me because I discovered it right when I started becoming the reader that I am today and the series was something that so perfectly encapsuled all the things that I love in books.

Ever since finishing Bitterblue, I have always wanted more books in this series. I wanted to read more about this world and I wanted to read more from these characters. So when Winterkeep was announced, I honestly could barely believe it. After all those years of me putting my wish out into the universe, it finally came true.

Winterkeep takes place four years after Bitterblue and a new land, Torla, has been discovered. The nations closest to Monsea is Winterkeep and it is quite different from what we have seen before. Winterkeep is a democratic nation that is way more industrial than any of the nations we know from the Graceling world. Not only that, there are telepathic foxes that people can bond to and sea creatures that communictae with some humans too, called silbercows.

In the beginning of this story Bitterblue, Hava and Giddon travel to Winterkeep, after envoys from Monsea drowned under mysterious circumstances. But we do not only follow their POVs but also a newly introduced character called Lovisa, who is the daughter of the president of Winterkeep.

“You’re going to be the friend to me that you’ve always been, and I’m going to show you that you’re safe now. We are not going to lose each other. You’re not alone with your fears, Bitterblue. We’re a team now, you see?”

I went into Winterkeep with really high expecations, having not only loved the original trilogy but also Cashore's more recent standalone release, Jane, Unlimited. And my expectations were more than met. Winterkeep is a beautiful addition to the Graceling series and world, that feels comfortable and familiar in many ways but has so many different aspects to offer too.

As a long-time fan of the series, I would highly recommend reading the original trilogy before you dive into Winterkeep but I will say that I think Winterkeep is very much readable on its own too. There will definitely be things that you won't have context for but it isn't really relevant for the storyline but more so for character backgrounds and relationships.
But Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue hold up so incredibly well, even in 2021, that there is no reason to skip those before you dive into Winterkeep.

“The fox wondered, as he wondered more and more lately, how any fox who cared about any human ever managed to keep the secrets of foxkind.”

Winterkeep is a nation that is very different from anything we've seen before. Even though Graceling and Bitterblue took place in a different land than Fire, they were still very similar in many aspects, with the biggest difference being the existence of monsters in Fire.

But Winterkeep is something completely new. In general, the land of Torla is quite different and very industrial. There is also a democratic system in place.
At first I wasn't sure how I felt about a land in the Graceling world having trains and airships but I got into the world of Winterkeep pretty quickly and at the end of the day, anything is possible in Fantasy, especially in Kristin Cashore's worlds.

I just found Torla and Winterkeep very fascinating and wanted to find out more about it at all times. The more I read of the book and just got a picture of this new land on the map, the more I just fell in love with it. And I think that it is a very refreshing addition to this Graceling world as we knew it before.

“She stopped in the middle of the room and stood there with her eyes on fire and her fists clenched, and Giddon was amazed, as he always was when she was angry, at how much power, fury, and force her person could convey. ”

I am always very in love with Cashore's characters and I think this book showed very specifically how much she excels at writing different character's voices. We mostly read from Bitterblue's, Giddon's and Lovisa's point of view and I never had any issues keeping these characters apart. The characters and their voices stood out so distinctly, it was almost like I could actually hear different voices in my head while I read the different chapters.

There is also other POVs but those have significantly smaller chapters and I don't want to talk about them more to not take anything away from anyone's reading experience, as I feel like you just have to discover that for yourself but they all added a lot to the storytelling.

I enjoyed reading from Giddon's point of view so much more than I initially thought I would and I really came to love him so much more than I ever did in the original trilogy. He is absolutely the charatcer that grew on me the most in this book.

“Maybe you have too much experience of the bad things that happen when you love someone, and too little experience of the good things,” he said. “Maybe you’re protecting yourself.”

But Lovisa is without question the stand-out character and protagonist for me. Her development throughout this book is immense and she goes through so much. There are huge themes of parental abuse, not only affecting Lovisa herself but also her three little brothers.

Seeing Lovisa understanding the abuse that she has faced throughout the years and her entire character development in so many different aspects was the storyline that really made the book for me, more than any of the political intrigue or mysteries (althought those go hand-in-hand with Lovisa's storyline as well).

But, again, this book deals a lot with parental abuse and in general is quite heavy and dark in parts. If you have read the original trilogy then you will already know that Kristin Cashore does not shy away from truly exploring darker themes in her stories as well and Winterkeep is definitely no exception with that.

As in the past, and maybe even more so in Winterkeep, Cashore really gives room to these themes and handles them with care. And I think that Cashore has an amazing way of balancing her stories, so that the weight of it never feels too heavy while reading and there are still so many joyful, happy and funny moments in this story.

“I don’t have time,” she said, knowing she could skip her homework, that the homework shouldn’t matter more than her brothers; but also knowing that she couldn’t stay overnight in this house, where at every moment she felt the darkness closing around her like a cold, lonely cave. Knowing that part of the reason she needed to go was to escape the sadness of these boys.”

I think that there are many more things to discuss about this book, but I'd rather you explore them yourself first and then discuss with me. I can definitely wholeheartedly recommend reading this newest addition to the series.

Ultimately, all that is left for me to say is that after years of waiting and then finally getting a new book in this series, I am left with a lot of gratitude but I am also left with wanting even more.

For me, Winterkeep has proven even further that this series and world is so worth exploring much more of and I would not mind at all for Cashore to add more books. And while I'd expect Cashore to introduce us to another protagonist if she ever adds any more books, I also think that even Lovisa's story is far from done.

Trigger and Content Warnings for murder, parental abuse, sexual harassment, slut-shaming, kidnapping, blood, drowning.

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Reading Progress

July 27, 2020 – Shelved
January 22, 2021 – Started Reading
January 23, 2021 –
10.0% "I can't describe to you all how much I already love this. I am just so happy. THIS BOOK IS MAKING ME SO HAPPY!"
February 7, 2021 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-37 of 37 (37 new)

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J.A. Ironside I'm really excited. I am also fervently hoping that it doesn't just rehash the Bitterblue plot because of the three that one was my least favourite. I didn't think it tackled its subject matter well. I am super up for this though!


Lea (drumsofautumn) J.A. wrote: "I'm really excited. I am also fervently hoping that it doesn't just rehash the Bitterblue plot because of the three that one was my least favourite. I didn't think it tackled its subject matter wel..."

I loved Bitterblue the most hahaha so I'm honestly just super excited to see what she does in this one!


J.A. Ironside I shoul reread it tbh because I've only ever read it once and it might improve upon me! :') Fire was my favourite and I have friends who thought that one was slow and directionless! Takes all sorts :D


message 4: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Ames-Foley oh my god i'm so excited!! a reread is definitely in order.


Lea (drumsofautumn) J.A. wrote: "I shoul reread it tbh because I've only ever read it once and it might improve upon me! :') Fire was my favourite and I have friends who thought that one was slow and directionless! Takes all sorts :D"

haha yeah honestly it seems to be one of the most divisive series as far as what book people like the most!!


Lea (drumsofautumn) Sarah wrote: "oh my god i'm so excited!! a reread is definitely in order."

I had a reread of the series planned already when this news came out and just started Fire, so the excitement is extra big 😍


J.A. Ironside Lea (drumsofautumn) wrote: "Sarah wrote: "oh my god i'm so excited!! a reread is definitely in order."

I had a reread of the series planned already when this news came out and just started Fire, so the excitement is extra big 😍"


Fire is one of those books that makes me feel homesick for it whenever I finish it again.


message 8: by Hannah (new)

Hannah B 💫 Yay! I didn’t realize she was still writing in this series; that’s so exciting! I loved Graceling when I read it years ago but have yet to read the others - this news is a good excuse to get started on them!


message 9: by Catherine (new)

Catherine People are always petty and rude when they don't like the work of an author. There are always at least 20 people (I'm being nice with that small number) who will rate a book one star, explain they won't read it but already know how awful it is, and how their day is being ruined by it because they apparently can't stand the mere thought that their personal opinion and feelings aren't the universal truth.

I didn't like Graceling at all, so I just didn't read the next books and leave those who love this series alone. Anyway, it's gonna make many people happy, so that's great for you guys!


message 10: by EJ (new)

EJ Graham I haven't read this book, but I've seen this with film series I love enough that I sympathise with your reaction to the reviews


Lea (drumsofautumn) J.A. wrote: "Lea (drumsofautumn) wrote: "Sarah wrote: "oh my god i'm so excited!! a reread is definitely in order."

I had a reread of the series planned already when this news came out and just started Fire, s..."


oh my god, I love that expression!! I know exactly what you mean!


Lea (drumsofautumn) Hannah wrote: "Yay! I didn’t realize she was still writing in this series; that’s so exciting! I loved Graceling when I read it years ago but have yet to read the others - this news is a good excuse to get starte..."

aww yay, I hope you love the others at least as much 💜💜


Lea (drumsofautumn) Catherine wrote: "People are always petty and rude when they don't like the work of an author. There are always at least 20 people (I'm being nice with that small number) who will rate a book one star, explain they ..."

If only most people could approach things like that. It's really just one of those things where I think.. hey, people could've just not said anything at all 😅


Lea (drumsofautumn) EJ wrote: "I haven't read this book, but I've seen this with film series I love enough that I sympathise with your reaction to the reviews"

god yes!! and I have disliked my fair share of later added sequels to both books and movies too.. but that doesn't mean I have to be dreading every single one.


message 15: by EJ (new)

EJ Graham Lea (drumsofautumn) wrote: "EJ wrote: "I haven't read this book, but I've seen this with film series I love enough that I sympathise with your reaction to the reviews"

god yes!! and I have disliked my fair share of later add..."


God forbid you have nuance to your opinion of anything? lol


message 16: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Lea (drumsofautumn) wrote: "Catherine wrote: "People are always petty and rude when they don't like the work of an author. There are always at least 20 people (I'm being nice with that small number) who will rate a book one s..."

Many people do, but since we don't rate and reviews those books, no one can tell how many. I understand how upsetting it is, and also hurtful for people who do love the books. I was upset too, before, when I saw one star ratings and insulting reviews for books I was looking forward to, but now... I just find it hilarious to see so many people wasting their time like this.

Just picture them having a mental breakdown like in a horror movie where the fandom tied them up to a chair and forced them to read books they hate until they choke on it 😂 Because their behavior is just that ridiculous, so don't let anyone spoil your excitement ;)


message 17: by Leona Wyatt (new) - added it

Leona Wyatt (Lennie Reads) I adore this trilogy and I'm so excited for some more world building and to be back with the characters


Lea (drumsofautumn) Leona Wyatt wrote: "I adore this trilogy and I'm so excited for some more world building and to be back with the characters"

yessss me too 🥺 I feel all warm and fuzzy every time I think about it!!


message 19: by Nate (new) - added it

Nate Steblay I’m apprehensive because I love Bitterblue and Saf 🙁 but this is one of my favorite series, so I’m stoked to jump back in!


Lea (drumsofautumn) Nate wrote: "I’m apprehensive because I love Bitterblue and Saf 🙁 but this is one of my favorite series, so I’m stoked to jump back in!"

fingers crossed we'll enjoy it!!


message 21: by EJ (new)

EJ Graham I was going to say I need people who draw like that for my books...then I realised I probably need them to be remotely likely to get published first XD


Daphnee (daphneereads) Totally agree! Can't wait for this one 🤩


message 23: by Helene (new) - added it

Helene Black I can’t wait! Graceling was one of the first book I read in English as a teenager and I was so proud of myself. Readers HAVE been asking for a new addition to the series!


Lea (drumsofautumn) Helene wrote: "I can’t wait! Graceling was one of the first book I read in English as a teenager and I was so proud of myself. Readers HAVE been asking for a new addition to the series!"

oh I love that so much! For me it was one of the series that really made the reader I am today, so I have a lot of appreciation for it too!


message 25: by Sylvana (new) - added it

Sylvana This is my childhood!!! I'M SO EXCITED AAAH!!


Lea (drumsofautumn) Sylvana wrote: "This is my childhood!!! I'M SO EXCITED AAAH!!"

heheeheh I hope that we both end up enjoying it!!! 💜✨


message 27: by J.A. (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.A. Ironside I have an arc. I'm really enjoying it so far :)


Kathy  D. It is so good! Definitely holds up to the others in the series. Almost makes up for Jane Unlimited (almost!).


Lea (drumsofautumn) Kathy wrote: "It is so good! Definitely holds up to the others in the series. Almost makes up for Jane Unlimited (almost!)."

oh that makes me happy to hear!! I loved JU too so.. even better for me too 😂😂😂


message 30: by Brytni (new) - added it

Brytni I don't know if I want to scream, cry, or hyperventilate and die over how excited I am over this book coming out.


Lea (drumsofautumn) Brytni wrote: "I don't know if I want to scream, cry, or hyperventilate and die over how excited I am over this book coming out."

hahaha I absolutely feel you... honestly everything at once!!


message 32: by Crystal (new) - added it

Crystal Connor I had no idea it was coming. I am going to get it and will be highly disappointed if Po isn’t in it.


message 33: by Lea (drumsofautumn) (last edited Jan 10, 2021 03:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lea (drumsofautumn) Crystal wrote: "I had no idea it was coming. I am going to get it and will be highly disappointed if Po isn’t in it."

I'm sure he will! It focuses on a new character but it's gonna intersect with Bitterblue's storyline, so we will surely see Katsa and Po too!!


message 34: by Jahania (new) - added it

Jahania Renteria I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS FOR ✨YEARS✨AND IM SO SAD IM THE ONLY PERSON I KNOW WHO READ IT SO I HAVE NO ONE TO FANGIRL WITH


Lea (drumsofautumn) Jahania wrote: "I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS FOR ✨YEARS✨AND IM SO SAD IM THE ONLY PERSON I KNOW WHO READ IT SO I HAVE NO ONE TO FANGIRL WITH"

I JUST HOPE THAT WE REALLY LOVE IT!!!!!!!


Raelle | raellephant I'm getting ready to start reading it myself and your UPDATE IS MAKING ME WANT TO START SOONER. I was put-off by so many bleh and middle-ground reviews but I really hope I like it.


Lea (drumsofautumn) Raelle | raellephant wrote: "I'm getting ready to start reading it myself and your UPDATE IS MAKING ME WANT TO START SOONER. I was put-off by so many bleh and middle-ground reviews but I really hope I like it."

I'm further into it now and I still love it so very much!!! I hope you'll enjoy it too 💜✨


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