'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 2 May 2015

Review: The Winner's Crime

The drama continues in this intriguing fantasy trilogy. Following on from the political power plays at the end of the previous book, Lady Kestrel plays the part of the dutiful fiancĂ©e to Valoria’s crown prince, attempting to put aside her feelings for Arin to keep him and his people safe. She discovers, however, that despite her good intensions, the will of the emperor is not so easily subverted and she needs to be on constant guard to avoid giving away her true motivations to a man who is looking for opportunities to prove he is in ultimate control.

I enjoyed reading the first book in the Winner’s Trilogy, The Winner’s Curse, and have been eagerly looking forward to how the story would develop. In the first book, I particularly appreciated that the romance didn’t dominate what was a strongly character-driven narrative and my hopes that this pattern would continue have not been disappointed.

Kestrel and Arin are both fighting the Emperor’s cruel rule in their own ways. Kestrel is logical, systematic and calculating while Arin is passionate and impulsive. While their different personalities might add to the tension of their attraction to each other, their vastly different ways of dealing with the conflict and danger of their situation leads to miscommunication and misunderstandings that see them both put in positions of great danger and emotional strain.

While I felt the pace of this second book was a little slower than the first, I really enjoyed the way the story explored the inner thoughts and emotions of the central characters and explored the concepts of love, loyalty, friendship and patriotism. The suspense is built through the internal tension of the characters as well as the ongoing intrigue and risk of discovery for those trying to undermine the plans of the cruel and controlling Emperor.

As with the first book, The Winner’s Crime continues to portray the relationship between Kestrel and Arin as one that is ultimately impossible. In Romeo and Juliet-style, their relationship is almost universally opposed, leaving little opportunity for them to explore the attraction they feel for each other.

I am looking forward to finding out how author Marie Rutkoski resolves this intriguing story in the final book of the trilogy. The anticipation is as much about finding out how the political situation plays out and discovering if there is a positive resolution to Kestrel’s complex family and friendship relationships as it is about discovering how Rutkoski will choose to resolve the relationship tension between Kestrel and Arin.

The Winner’s Trilogy books are ideal for readers looking for more complex interactions between characters and a storyline driven by intrigue and relationship dynamics rather than action and adventure.

Title: The Winner's Crime
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Bloomsbury, $15.99 RRP
Publication Date: March 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781408858691
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction