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Marie Rutkoski

Marie Rutkoski fantasy authorMarie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders and The Celestial Globe. The Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa, where she took Writers’ Workshop classes and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat. Learn more at Marie Rutkoski’s website.


The Cabinet of Wonders: Charms, chills, and whimsy

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski is perhaps not itself a "wonder" (that sort of praise is a bit too breathlessly over the top), but it comes close enough to deserve an enthusiastic recommendation and a preeminent place on any child's shelf. Start with several appealing and richly drawn characters; add an inventive mix of history, folk tales, and the author's own plotting; toss in an original blend of various magics and technologies, sprinkle a few grim moments about and several more whimsical ones; add one villain who both charms and chills, and a possible ally who mostly just chills; and top it all off with an intelligent mechanical spider and what you get is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Cabinet of Wonders is set near the end of the 16th century in quasi-historical Prague, capital of Bohemia and home to its ru... Read More

The Celestial Globe: Solid and rewarding YA

The Celestial Globe by Marie Rutkoski

The Celestial Globe is the second book in Marie Rutkoski’s Kronos Chronicles, following last year’s Cabinet of Wonders, which was a wonderful start with strong characterization, a creative mix of 16th century history and folk tales in service of a compelling plot, and a wonderful sense of both light and grim whimsy. The Celestial Globe isn’t as strong, but it’s a rewarding read in its own right and more than fulfills the purpose of a second book: convincing the reader to stay with the series.

The young girl Petra is back as the central character, along with her several compatriots: a mechanical spider named Astrophil, a young Roma named Neel whose magical gift is “ghost fingers” that invisibly exten... Read More

The Jewel of the Kalderash: A wholly satisfactory close to the trilogy

The Jewel of the Kalderash by Marie Rutkoski

The Jewel of the Kalderash is the third and final book in the children's historical fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles by Marie Rutkoski. The first, The Cabinet of Wonders, was excellent (I gave it a strong 4 in my review) and while the second book, The Celestial Globe, wasn’t quite as good, that was mostly due to Cabinet being so strong. The Jewel of the Kalderash, like its predecessor, doesn’t quite reach the quality of The Cabinet of Wonders, but it is quite good — certainly better than much of what I see — and makes for a wholly satisfactory close to the trilogy.

In this final volume, the villainous Prince Rodolfo is quickly and seemingly inevitably moving toward b... Read More

The Winner’s Curse: Rutkoski won me over

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Marie Rutkoski is a good writer. I’ve known that from when I read The Cabinet of Wonders, the first book of her KRONOS CHRONICLES, a Middle Grade trilogy. While the subsequent books weren’t quite as good, I still enthusiastically recommended the series. And I can tell Rutkoski is still a good writer after reading her newest YA entry, The Winner’s Curse, because even though I had some large issues with the novel, issues that normally would have made me not recommend it, somehow, Rutkoski still had me whipping through the book in a single sitting. And has me ending up happily recommending it. Despite my list of things I didn’t like. A curse indeed.

Kestrel is the too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter of General Trajan, commander of the Valorian Empire’s army. Ten years ago, that army, as part of the Empire’s imperialistic expansion, brutally conquered the Herran... Read More

The Winner’s Crime: A richly layered middle book in a strong trilogy

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Crime is the second book by Marie Rutkoski in her young adult WINNERS TRILOGY, and like the first, though I had some issues with some aspects, Rutkoski’s writing fully won me over even before we got to yet another great ending. It’s pretty much impossible to not have some spoilers for book one, The Winner’s Curse, in this review, so fair warning. Any spoilers for The Winner’s Crime will be minor. Spoilers for book one start in the next paragraph.

At the end of The Winner’s Curse (told you spoilers were starting), Kestrel had managed to avert major bloodshed and battle by negotiating with the Emperor to have Herran declared an independent part of the Empire (i... Read More

Other books by Marie Rutkoski

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsThe Shadow Society — (2012) Publisher: Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere — but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population. Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her. As if she were his enemy. When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything — not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever… In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.fantasy and science fiction book reviews

Jacks and Queens at the Green Mill — (2012) Publisher: Few know that the Great Chicago Fire was started deliberately, as a genocide of deadly creatures called Shades. Fewer still know that they didn’t die, not quite… but one human will confront the truth when an ominous beauty makes him gamble for his life.

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