WARNING: If you’ve not read The Winner’s Curse proceed with caution. I’ve tried to write this a spoiler free as possible for those who haven’t read the first book. If you’ve read The Winner’s Curse proceed ahead worry free because I promise I won’t have spoiled anything.
Title: The Winner’s Crime
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5
“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 knows her whole line of play. But Kestrel saw only one move, and maybe the next.”
I honestly feel like I can’t even properly put into words all that I’m feeling after reading this book. I have so many conflicting emotions and I feel like I’ve just been let off the longest roller coaster ride of my life. One thing I can say with absolute certainty though is that I am in awe of this series, the writing, the characters, the whole world Marie Rutkoski created. She built onto the story she created in The Winner’s Curse so beautifully. You get to experience for yourself the true savagery of the Valorian empire and you get to learn a bit more about the Herrani and their beliefs while also getting a peak at a whole different set of characters and people in a very colorful land full of tigers and miniature weapons. She also introduces some new faces in the empire, two of which I found myself pretty fond of.
I enjoyed The Winner’s Crime and it’s never ending heart break. It was torture in the best way and sunk its claw into me and wouldn’t let go. I firmly believe that any well written, great story should make the reader feel strongly; be it sadness or happiness or anger. This book succeed it making me feel all three, especially the sadness and anger. At one point I was actually in tears. Then at times I was so frustrated with what was happening to the characters and then at the character’s themselves that I wished I could jump into the story and pour some sense into them all. There was never a dull moment that’s for sure.
I really felt like at the core this book was very introspective, you experience the main characters at war with themselves as much as the world they’re in. Kestrel is trying to figure out what the right thing really is and what she’s willing or able to take to do the right thing. What consequences will hurt the ones she loves the least? I felt like Arin was really struggling with self doubt and trying to see things for what they actually are rather than what is being shown to him. Does he succeeded? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
There were some things I was rather disappointed in as well though, the friendship aspect which I won’t really go into because it holds a spoiler and the fact that it was definitely more focused on romance than I thought it would be. Romance does play a big part in these books. However, other things that play a big part in them is injustice and a corrupt empire full of people who blindingly serve a leader who is power hungry. A leader who see’s not only his own people but other’s as objects to be bought and hey if they won’t be bought ‘off with their heads’. It contains two main characters both so equally strong and weak, neither of which are perfect, and their journey and struggle to figure out not only themselves but what they’re willing to do or believe in. So don’t let the romance deter you. It’s more complex than just that.
If you’ve yet to pick the second book up get ready for a shocker of an ending, even if you see it coming it will still leave you feeling shocked. I’m still sitting here as a type this feeling baffled and saddened by it. At the same time it will leave you longing to dive back into the world because you’ll want to know what happens next. If you’ve not yet picked up this series… Do it! You won’t regret it.
As for me; I’m ready to hop back onto that emotional roller coaster and ride my way back into this book world via The Winner’s Kiss. I can’t wait to find out how Marie Rutkoski is going to wrap everything up!
Some of my favorite quotes from The Winner’s Crime;
“The god of stars rules this year, so you must mind your feet and gaze. This god loves accidents. Beauty, too. Sometimes when the god is vexed or simply bored, she decides the most beautiful thing is disaster.”
“He did not want her to know. He did not want her to see. But: Look at me, he found himself thinking furiously at her. Look at me.”
“We all make our choices. What would you choose?”
“Perhaps her greatest lies were the ones she’d told to herself.”
“A choice like that is easy when you don’t really know what it will cost.”
My Review for The Winner’s Curse: (here)