Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 416 Pages
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Source: eARC via Publisher! Thanks Macmillan!
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 even darker than The Winner's Curse. Kestrel and Arin spend the book dealing with the repercussions of their decisions in book one and make even more harrowing ones. We see them struggle: to follow their duties and loyalties or to follow their hearts?
Rutkoski's writing is so beautiful and perfect. She crafts such lovely prose. This book brought out all the emotions. It's no exaggeration to say this book broke me. I felt everything like a punch in the gut. Rutkoski is wonderful at building the suspense and weaving in plot twists that we never see coming. This author is fearless and merciless. She's forgiving in parts yet cruel in others. You know the writing is good when it's so absorbing and enticing that you can't help but be emotionally-invested and caught up in it.
Kestrel and Arin undergo so much character growth. It was truly wonderful seeing them develop. The change from book one to the end of book two is fantastic! As I've said before, I absolutely love Kestrel. I like that she's not the most physically adept person like most YA characters, yet she's smarter than most. Her mind is sharp and her perceptiveness and strategy blow my mind. Arin's fierce loyalty and honesty is admirable. Some new characters are introduced and although they are interesting, they pale in comparison to our main characters.
I felt a lack of romance in this book. I miss this smoldering ship!! This book had more yearning and regret and pain. They both take on the stance that their love isn't as important as other things. They hide and deny their feelings. It frustrates me to no end!!
We see life at court and the trysts and gossip and the decorum of it all. It's interesting to learn more of the traditions and watch the Emperor's mind games play out. Kestrel plays spy in this book and tries to figure out the Emperor's plans. At times, I felt this book was slow and unmoving. There was also a lack of happiness and joy and humor. This book was much darker and dealt with some heavy topics, so it makes sense.
But that ending... Major cliff-hanger. You've been warned.
The Winner's Crime is a satisfying sequel that brings along new characters and new troubles and couples beautiful writing with a beautiful story.