Author: Marie Rutkoski (@marierutkoski)
Published: March 3rd, 2015
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Genre: YA fantasy
POV: 3rd person, dual
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux BYR
Format: Print ARC
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf
Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. 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…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.
As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
Separated by one fateful decision in The Winner's Curse, Kestrel and Arin find themselves on different sides. Kestrel is playing a dangerous game of words, actions, and politics, trying to keep the Emperor pleased while secretly doing anything she can to help the people of Herran. Arin, meanwhile, is thrust into an unwanted position of power, and he'll have to go to great lengths to earn a true freedom for Herran. Family, honor, love, and sacrifice, The Winner's Crime is an outstanding sequel.
Secrets, lies, deceit, and danger linger in every corner of Kestrel and Arin's lives. Rutkoski builds the emotions of the story, starting with a simple, slow flow until everything comes crashing down with intensity. She makes you care for these characters, and every page will leave you with the desire to keep reading on. Well-paced, and thoroughly captivating, Rutkoski raises the stakes with The Winner's Crime, and refuses to give her characters (and readers) a moment to rest. Exciting, shocking, and simply incredible, this trilogy needs to be on your to-read list.
Highlights: Rutkoski develops the world of this trilogy further, revealing fascinatingly unique locations and expanding on myth and history of each one. But even better, Kestrel and Arin begin to take more action - whether or it's daring risks or playing a dangerous game of politics, every move matters. Side characters are equally fascinating, especially the conniving (and frightening) Emperor. Family and relationships still play a strong role in the story. And, as always, Rutkoski's writing is stunning and evocative, bringing each character, location, and emotion to life in the most vivid way possible.
Lowlights: I miss the romance. There are a couple moments between Arin and Kestrel, but these two are unable to be together in this story. I hated the lack of communication between them, because it was frustrating to read. AND THAT ENDING. It's going to be a long wait for the final book.
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf. Loved, 4+ out of 5. A compelling and emotional sequel, The Winner's Crime will leave you heartbroken, shocked, and so very eager for the final installment.