Genres: Romance, Dystopian, Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Uncategorizable, Young Adult
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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.
The Winner’s Crime is infuriatingly compelling and completely devastating.
*This review contains spoilers for The Winner’s Curse, book one in the series.*
I don’t think I’ve ever been more frustrated while reading a book. I read this book in a few hours because I just couldn’t put it down for any period of time without being completely distracted by it. I experienced a gamut of emotions while reading; lamenting in hopelessness; gripped with fear – my heartbeat drumming from intrigue; and lastly, on fire with rage and helplessness because these characters I love, and who love each other so deeply, just couldn’t catch a break.
When The Winner’s Curse ended, Kestrel dealt Arin a heartbreaking blow with the news of her engagement, as she handed him and his people freedom and an escape from war. Now, Arin sees Kestrel as a stranger, a woman who betrayed him for power, and continually fights to reconcile the person he sees with the woman he fell in love with. This is the crux of the conflict in The Winner’s Crime. Kestrel made the ultimate sacrifice for Arin and the people he loves and she must maintain the deceit, break his love bit by bit, in order to guarantee his safety and a future. In The Winner’s Crime, Kestrel and Arin try to maneuver the dangerous world of Valoria, sometimes skillfully, most times recklessly, playing a game of politics with a more seasoned and more ruthless player, The Emperor. He is a cunning snake, and the best of hateful villains.
The Winner’s Crime is a book of lies. Lies for revenge, lies for truth, lies for protection, lies for survival, and it gripped me in a constant state of anxiety as I watched Arin and Kestrel suffer through the most tragic circumstances and devastating dilemmas. Their bond is tested severely, repeatedly, and I barely survived it.
Angst. I don’t like to mention that word because I think it’s overused, but The Winner’s Crime is truly angst ridden. The constant back and forth and near misses… It is filled with the kind of tension that actually made me cry in sadness and frustration. I know a lot of readers who love that feeling, but personally, I don’t. My sensitive soul can’t handle the ache. And it wasn’t even real. It felt real.
Marie Rutkoski’s exquisite writing and storytelling caused a cliche of reactions: nail biting, hair pulling, I was quite literally tense and breathless as I sat on edge, constantly refusing the urge to rip my book to pieces. Not hyperbole. I was completely irrational while reading this book. There was no room for reason, only feeling, and what I felt was extreme, and as I write this review – after a Crime filled restless sleep – I’m somewhat more reasonable because I can see the nuances in this brilliantly woven story. This is the best kind of drama, an engaging and epic show that leaves the audience fiercely fiending for more. I recommend.