The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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 review my contain spoilers from the first book in the series, though there are no spoilers for The Winner's Crime***
Review: Wow! I finished this book pretty recently, and I still feel winded. I could not put this book down. I felt pretty emotionally drained after finishing, but it was worth it.
Kestrel and Arin are back, but their problems have just begun. This book shifts perspectives between Kestrel and Arin in a really effective way. Remember how we switched perspectives between Tris and Four in Allegiant, and the result was just confusion (since they sounded exactly the same) and irritation (since it didn't matter whose eyes we were reading through, since they were in the same place and doing the same thing 99% of the time)? Yeah, this book adeptly avoids that whole mess. This is how shifting perspectives should work. We peek inside their mental and emotional state of being, AND the plot is advanced in ways that can only be done from their point of view.
It's clear that Kestrel and Arin have deep feelings for each other, but their lack of trust prevents them from expressing it. Plus, any relationship between them would be disastrous for everyone involved from a political perspective, so while there are a million reasons why they shouldn't be together, you still want them to make it since their love is the best thing about either character. I was a little frustrated with their lack of communication, but I could definitely understand the reasons behind it. Also, I should mention this: for a book that focuses a great deal on Kestrel and Arin's relationship, I was not put off by the angst. Coming from me, that's a pretty big deal. So, hey, fellow romance curmudgeons, you might still like this series.
Romance aside, there is still a lot going on. This book was much more political than the first book, I thought. But while there was much less action, there was just as much suspense and tension throughout the book. Every word, every gesture, is noticed and analyzed in the emperor's court. You have to be so careful all the time. Anytime a character did something the emperor didn't like, you just knew it was going to come back to haunt them. It was just a matter of time. I was on the edge of my seat the whole book long, just waiting for it to hit the fan. And when it did, I BASICALLY DIED.
I can't talk about that ending without being spoilery, so I'll just say that it slayed me, and I cannot wait until book three is released. GIVE ME BOOK THREE ASAP!!!
Review in a GIF:
Bottom Line: A superb second installment in the Winner's trilogy. The suspense and tension will prevent you from putting this book down even for a moment, and then when you finish you can join me while I pine for book 3.