Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Synopsis: Lady Kestrel’s engagement to Valoria’s crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust …
While Arin fights to keep his country’s freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth.
Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this second book in the breathtaking Winner’strilogy.
Review: This review may contain spoilers for the first book in the series.
The Winner’s Crime is a stunning sequel in this amazing series. Marie Rutkoski once again weaves strategy, mystery, political agenda, determination, deceit, lies, betrayal, loyalty and forbidden love into an wonderfully craft, suspenseful world. Darker and deadlier, The Winner’s Crime takes you on a new journey filled with uncovered truths, deep buried deceit, secrets, desire, power-plays and determination.
After the events of The Winner’s Curse, the Herrani people have reclaimed their land, and their freedom. Arin is leading his people into this new world, a new world filled with wars that still need to be won, deceit at every turn and lies to be uncovered.
Kestral, now engaged to the crown prince Verex, finds herself struggling with her love for her father, her love for Arin and for what is right. Her agreement has caged her, and the only way she can help the Herrani people is to unlock secrets within the cage in which she is trapped. She becomes a spy, a traitor to the Valorian way, all in aid of helping Arin and his people – but she has ties to Valaria that cannot be severed, and she finds herself walking along a very fine, extremely dangerous, line. How much will crime ultimately cost her?
Kestrel and Arin’s relationship is just as intense as it was in The Winner’s Curse, still smouldering, still unsure, and just as uncertain. A lot has changed since they first met, and their sacrifices and duties keep them apart… but the yearning, the desire, the longing, is all still there. Throughout The Winner’s Crime the only thing that changes is the level of uncertainty – they become uncertain of their trust for each other, they are keeping secrets from each other, they are trying to protect each other. The secrets are driving them apart, and although I don’t disagree with the reasoning behind the secrets (to protect the other), this tactic will ultimately be harmful. Although I really enjoyed their brief moments together, which showcases their passion, hope, desire and aching, it broke my heart to feel the pain, doubt and distrust that continues to grow between them.
Told from alternating points of view of both Kestrel and Arin, The Winner’s Curse takes us to new place which allows us to explore the depths of the story further and encourages character development. Kestrel has to think far more strategically, to protect the ones she loves, to keep the secrets that she must. Arin is coming into his own as a leader, he must remain focused, indifferent and powerful. Due to the alternating points of views, we also get to learn a lot more about both our main characters, as well as secondary characters such as the Emporer, the General and Kestrel’s fiancé, the crown prince,Verex.
Just like in The Winner’s Curse, the writing gorgeous, filled with luscious descriptions and beautiful prose. With amazing world building, this is an epic YA fantasy that is both equally beautiful and cruel. The Winner’s Curse is darker, far more deadlier, and filled with even more conspiracy, lies and heartache. And in true Marie Rutkoski style, the ending will blow you away! Yes, The Winner’s Crime finishes with a masterfully devastating twist that will leave you utterly desperate for the finale in this series. Be warned, the ending is brutal – filled with heartache and despair, with just enough hope to letting you know that the next book will be fantastic.
“If you won’t be my friend, you’ll regret being my enemy.”
“Sometimes you think you want something,” Arin told him, “when in reality you need to let it go.”
“You will not shut me out.”
“She knew that sound. It was the voice of someone for whom a cloud of confusion has been lifted. It was clarity, and the strength that returns with it.”
“I gave him nothing.”