Winterkeep is Cashore’s long-awaited continuation of her Graceling Realm series. However, it felt like the years between her book releases created a disconnect within the narrative. Although the storyline itself is good, the execution was underwhelming.
Returning characters felt a bit like shadows of their former selves. The missing queen and Giddon’s tear-soaked mourning and pouting made up the majority of the book and could have easily been condensed, while there seemed to be a lot of buildup of secondary characters like Trina who inevitably played a much smaller role than expected.
Still, there were shining moments in this book, particularly Lovisa’s character development from a selfish, rich student to an up-and-coming leader molded, hardened, and then liberated by tragedy and the unexpected compassion of those around her.
Her revelation in the end still lingers with me:
“This world kept wanting to be bigger than she was letting it. Why did she keep trapping herself inside small things?”
Her transformation at the end of this book made it a worthwhile read.