Title: The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Synopsis: 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.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
Would I recommend? Perfect for fans of romance and fantasy.
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I read the Winner’s Curse last November or December, and I had gone into it without high expectations. All I knew about this series was that it was going to be a trilogy and that the covers are beautiful.
Little did I know that I would fall head over heels in love with the first book, and even more so with the second book. This series is everything a series should be. It’s smart and witty. It’s humorous yet serious. It’s entertaining yet thought-provoking. The characters are fantastic, the plot is intelligent and the writing is effortless. Five big, big stars for Marie Rutkoski and the Winner’s trilogy. I honestly do not know how I’m going to wait for the next one.
This book is so much more than fantasy. I can’t accurately describe how smart this trilogy is just by writing it in a review- you have to read it to fully understand what I mean. There’s a rich and complex political backbone to the fantasy and the romance. Dirty politics, military strategies, loyalties and betrayals, honor and family. This trilogy is the definition of multiple story-lines, and Marie Rutkoski carries it out with such effortless finesse and grace, it’s unbelievable.
Not only is the book incredibly smart, it’s just as entertaining. There are plot twists throughout the novel, and that ending was perhaps one of the most angst-inducing endings ever written. Rutkoski’s characters are brave and aren’t afraid to take risks; this is what makes them so lovable. This is what makes the reader invest in them so fully, and actually feel their pain when they feel it. Throughout the last fifty or so pages, I could not lie down because I was so alert and gasping and whispering, “oh dear God.”
Intelligent, fast-paced, entertaining, well-balanced. That’s everything I want in a good book, and Rutkoski didn’t disappoint.
I think the characters in this trilogy are so well-crafted. They are not flat. They have distinct personalities, and you know what’s going on in their head because they seem like real people that you have been with all their lives. I was never confused about a protagonist’s motives, and I enjoy that.
Kestrel is one of the most bad-ass heroines I’ve ever read. She’s a strong female character, but she’s not another Katniss, if you know what I mean. She isn’t physically strong. She’s delicate and she loves a gorgeous dress and elegant hair. But boy, she’s smart. She’s smart beyond words. She’s cunning and she can take anybody down with her brains and her ability to think outside the box. She’s compassionate, but she isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done. She’s anything but selfish. Another thing I really enjoyed about her was that she doesn’t put her family or friends on the backseat when faced with a love interest, and that’s something that often happens in novels. It was refreshing.
I don’t know what to say about Arin. I love him, and that’s that. I want an Arin.
The writing in this book makes the story move very fast. Marie Rutkoski doesn’t spend a lot of time providing unnecessary details. She sets up the scene, the atmosphere, the tone and then moves right on. This aspect of her writing does so much for the story, because you’re not bogged down by details you don’t really care about. Moreover, she writes with such effortless grace. Nothing feels forced. Everything flows smoothly, and it’s an easy and entertaining read, even though the content has the ability to rip out your heart and run it over with a tank. Seriously well done.