Cover image for The winner's crime
The winner's crime
First edition.
Physical Description:
405 pages : illustration ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
HL 610 L Lexile
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria's crown prince is the event of a lifetime, but to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making, so as she aches to tell the truth about her engagement, she becomes a skilled practitioner of deceit and as a spy passes information and gets close to uncovering a shocking secret.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available

On Order



Following your heart can be a crime

A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin's freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She's working as a spy in the court. If caught, she'll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can't help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner's Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Author Notes

Marie Rutkoski received a bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa and studied Shakespeare at Harvard University. She is a professor of English literature at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance drama, children's literature, and fiction writing. She is the author of The Winner's Trilogy, The Shadow Society, and the Kronos Chronicles.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-A romantic's romance novel, this second volume in Rutkoski's saga picks up where The Winner's Curse (2013) ended. Kestrel, a member of the Valorian ruling class, is engaged and will one day rule the empire. Meanwhile, Arin, Kestrel's former slave, is the leader of the Herrani people, and his subjects are starving thanks to the emperor's taxes. Kestrel is torn between her need to help Arin and her loyalty to her father, a general in the imperial army. Arin, in turn, is unraveled by his uncertainties: Is the woman he loves a power-hungry liar, or is she the spy who is supplying treasonous information that might just help him save his people? Some of Arin and Kestrel's misunderstandings and missed opportunities are more histrionic than wildly romantic, and though the plot is saturated with sword fights, subterfuge, and glittering parties, it isn't suspenseful as the previous entry. Poetic passages demonstrate the depth of Rutkoski's research and talent. "It suddenly seemed that Kestrel had been an empty room, and that all of her wishes came crowding in. They thronged: delicate, full-skirted, their silk brushing up against each other." The ending finds the protagonists again divided and facing life-threatening dilemmas, each thinking of the other. The last sentence resonates so strongly that it might just be enough to sustain fans until the first line of the final volume.-Chelsey Philpot, Boston University, MA (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Kestrel (The Winner's Curse), newly betrothed to the Valorian emperor's son, tries to hide her feelings for her former slave Arin, now the governor of Herran. Her divided loyalties, however, make it difficult for her to navigate the labyrinthine political landscape of the imperial court. Kestrel's strategic brilliance against her many ruthless enemies will delight fans of Game of Thronesesque fantasy epics. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

The middle entry in a fantasy trilogy brings new players to the game while exponentially raising the stakes. Lady Kestrel has successfully bargained for limited independence for the Herrani people, but only at the price of her own freedom. Now betrothed to the feckless Imperial heir, she risks even more as a spy, while managing to convince everyonemost particularly Arin, once her slave, then her captor, now governor of Herranof her ruthless devotion to tyrannical Valorian dominion. The twisty plot is a cleverly constructed puzzle box of intrigue and deceit, couched in graceful prose that shifts from restrained to voluptuous. The diversity both between and within the various cultures suggests a richly detailed world; yet as the fate of peoples, kingdoms and empires hangs in the balance, the conflict plays out at the most intimate personal level in the reluctant, dangerous, impossible attraction between Kestrel and Arin. Her ferocious intelligence and his blazing integrity demand sympathy and allegiance even when the intense yearning, distrust, rejections and betrayals become almost too painful to bear. As positions harden and blood is shed, their destruction at each other's hands looms ever more certain; but a desperate hope that somehow disaster can be averted propels readers to the final devastating page, leaving only the excruciating wait for the sequel. Enthralling, agonizing and incandescent. (Fantasy. 12 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Kestrel offers herself to the Valorian emperor as a daughter-in-law as part of a treaty (secretly) designed to save her beloved Arin's country of Herrani, but court life is nothing more than a twisted game of cat and mouse. Arin believes that she betrayed him, while the cruel emperor waits patiently for Kestrel's first misstep. A rich and complex story of political intrigue, missed opportunities, and thwarted trust fill the pages of this sequel to The Winner's Curse (2014). Rutkoski's world is splendid in its cruelty and beauty, with characters that continue to claim our hearts and leave us impatient for the trilogy's conclusion.--Welch, Cindy Copyright 2015 Booklist