In April of 2014, I reviewed a book titled The Winner’s Curse, by a Marie Rutkoski. Ms. Rutkoski was a new author for me, and I wasn’t thrilled by the cover of the book, which seemed overly girly and screamed “Teen warrior chick romance.” But her book blew me away with its meticulous plotting, beautiful prose, and complex, intelligent characters. I had stumbled upon a true gem, and I eagerly awaited book two of this series. Well, book two is here, and all I can say is that it is sooooo much better than book one, and that is saying something.
The Winner’s Crime continues the story of Kestrel and Arin from the first book. Kestrel is now living in the royal palace, engaged to prince Verex, son of the Valorian emperor. Arin, now the Herrani governor, still longs for Kestrel, but feels she’s betrayed him in a quest for power. The truth is that Kestrel is playing a bigger game than anyone imagines. Under the watchful and malevolent eye of the emperor, she must find a way to help the Herrani, stay true to her father, and keep hidden her deep feelings for Arin. A novel of intrigue, well-crafted lies, and soul-searing love.
I won’t say any more than that about the plot. It is rare, for me, that I find a series that gets better as it moves along. Often, I read book one, and then read half of book two, disappointed by the author’s story choices. With The Winner’s Crime, I literally could not read the book fast enough. Brava, Ms. Rutkoski, for your brilliant work. The series shines on so many levels; world-building, character development, pacing, plotting….both books are simply marvelous.