Rutkowski, Marie. The Winner’s Crime. New York: Farrar Straus Books for Young Readers, 2015. 978-0-374-38470-8. 402 p. $17.99. Gr 6-12.
Rutkowski continues the fervent story of Kestral and Arin in this worthy follow-up to The Winner’s Curse (2013). Kestral is now engaged to the crown prince of Valoria, Prince Verex, a proposal she made in order to guarantee Arin’s freedom while also remaining loyal to the Valorian crown. With this agreement, Valoria places a new tax on the Herrani people, ensuring a life of starvation and struggle. As their leader, Arin struggles with his people’s limited independence and what he sees as Kestral’s betrayal. In secret, Kestral plots to help Arin, even if she can’t be with him. While an overall romance, the story is also ripe with fierce sword fights, enchanting parties, and thrilling twists, making it hard to put down. The brief scenes between Arin and Kestral drip with tension and unrequited feelings, and will leave reachers itching for the final book in the series, The Winner’s Kiss, to be published in March 2016. THOUGHTS: While the ending leaves the fate of Arin and Kestral in question (again), Rutkowski’s strong writing, vivid descriptions and star-crossed-lover-like protagonists make this book (and series) a must-read for any fan of high fantasy.
Fantasy Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School