Dial. (Graceling Realm). Jan. 2021. 528p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780803741508.
Gr 9 Up–Set five years after Bitterblue, this novel leaves the familiar Seven Kingdoms of the early books and switches settings to the treacherous world of Winterkeep. The narrative is told from five points of view, some familiar, some new: Bitterblue, the reigning monarch of Monsea; Giddon, a disinherited lord first seen in Graceling; Lovisa Cavenda, the eldest daughter of Keepish politicians; Adventure, a telepathic blue fox; and a mysterious sea creature whose peace at the bottom of the ocean is violently disturbed. The story starts with a bang as something explodes underwater, killing many telepathic creatures who live there. Bitterblue falls overboard on her way to Winterkeep and is assumed dead. Giddon tries to discover the roots of the conspiracy tying their supposed allies to Monsea’s enemies. Lovisa realizes her parents are lying more than usual and hiding something in the attic. Adventure tries to keep his bonded human, Lovisa’s mother, from hurting people. Cashore weaves these five plots into an intricate tapestry full of high stakes, deft humor, and characters readers will root to join forces. The cast is racially diverse: Keepish are brown-skinned, Bitterblue has light-brown coloring, and Monseans are white. Lovisa is bisexual, and her narrative has a coming-of-age feel as she explores her sexuality and begins to see her parents for who they really are.
VERDICT This long-awaited addition to the series exceeds expectations—with the action of Graceling, the political theater of Fire, and characters from Bitterblue, this title has something to offer all Cashore fans.

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