Series: The Winner's Trilogy, #2
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Category: High Fantasy/ Romance
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
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.
This series… This series is amazing! I seriously can’t get enough of it. And this book brought out the feels. Oh the feels! Though I didn’t remember much of what happened in the first book, it really wasn’t hard to get lost within this thrilling story once again. Rutkoski is an amazing writing. I loved the way she spun Kestrel and Arin’s story. It isn’t all romance, it’s action, intense political movements, drama, and heart pounding danger.
“If you won’t be my friend, you’ll regret being my enemy.”
Kestrel is a brilliant character. A person who puts others before herself, ready to risk quite a lot to protect the ones she holds close to her heart. I think that’s why I love her so much. She’s smart, strong in more than just physical strength, brave, and she does put her heart into everything she does. The first book left off with Kestrel making a deal which puts her in a very dangerous situation. It was very interesting watching her navigate through political situations, uneasy alliances, and enter into dangerous life and death games. One thing I did enjoy was her character growth. Being in this more dangerous world, she really had to step up even more, put herself into danger, and sacrifice so much to protect others. I loved watching her do that though it had me panicking quite a lot. She also began to see more, see and accept the differences that reside between her people and those not like her.
Arin stole my heart in the first book, and I think I’ve really fallen for him in the The Winner’s Crime. Heartbroken, unsure of himself, his position, and his heart, Arin did struggle with a lot. Though it was painful to watch him self-doubt himself (and a few things broke my heart); he is a very determined character. I love that he follows his heart, willing to do what he must to follow his heart. And like Kestrel he puts his people and his country before himself. He too did grow a lot from the first book as well. And though he did struggle with a lot within himself, I loved that Arin kept fighting.
There are also quite a few side characters. Some I just couldn’t get enough of and some I wanted to punch in the face. But Rutkoski did create intriguing and diverse characters. She also created such an in-depth world, filled with legends, history, and culture. That is something that drew me in from the first book. The pacing was to my liking. Though some might find it slow, I love a story that builds the story, and develops the characters. Rutkoski really did weave an enthralling tale. She built her story up and then left me wanting so much more. I also loved that I could see quite a few parallels between some Roman/Greek stories within the book. She did an amazing job doing that.
The romance, though not the main element in the book, is still beautiful and so very strong. I loved that I could feel the pull between Kestrel and Arin, the desperation between them. Though they don’t have as many encounters as I wanted, even when they were thinking about each other my heart leaped out of my chest and squeezed with both pain and love. I literally had butterflies flapping around in my stomach at certain parts in the book. The buildup and development just was done so perfectly, but always leaving me wanted more.
“He did not want her to know.
He did not want her to see.
Look at me, he found himself thinking furiously at her. Look at me.
She lifted her eyes, and did.”
I adore, love, and can’t get enough of this series. That cliffhanger has me biting my nails and wishing I had the next book in my hands because OHMYGAWD. The Winner’s Crime is an amazing read; a second installment that didn’t leave me unsatisfied, but still craving more. I highly recommend this beautiful high fantasy series.