The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy (#2)
Release date: March 12th 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)
Summary: “Lady Kestrel’s engagement to Valoria’s crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust …
While Arin fights to keep his country’s freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth.
Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this second book in the breathtaking Winner’s trilogy.”
The Winner’s Crime is not what it seems to be, it’s much more. It’s a an intricate and well thought plot that will catch you in its spider’s web and you won’t even see it coming. The ending of The Winner’s Curse left us all hanging and wanting more. I bet no one expected Krestel to decide to marry the emperor’s son in exchange of freeing Herran as an independent country (although it would still be under the control of the empire, Arin would be made governor and all those politics). I’ll be keeping this review short so as to avoid giving out spoilers.
We were left with an angry and frustrated Arin, who had to watch his loved one bear the mark of the royal engagement, and a resigned but not in the least less smart and badass Krestel, who had sacrificed her love for a better life for Arin and the Herrani people. However, things don’t go exactly according to the plan and Krestel sees herself in a world of conspiracies and politics that even her can’t compete in. The emperor’s cunning plans and his network of people will turn Krestel’s life into a game where she never knows what the right move to make is. The conversations between Krestel and the emperor reminded me of a predator chasing its prey. Beautiful dialogue.
We get to understand Krestel’s surroundings and new life right at the beginning of the book. Krestel and the emperor are having a talk and you can see that everything that the emperor does has a meaning behind it or an ulterior motive. I loved how Arin and Krestel’s vulnerability became apparent throughout the book. It showed that no one can be perfect and things sometimes don’t go according to the plan.
Now, the relationship between Krestel and Arin killed me. Why? Probably because there was none except for when Arin had to go to the palace to the engagement party or by the end. And don’t get me started on that. My heart ached, it throbbed. I was wide-eyed in the middle of the subway because I just wanted to scream at Arin for his incredible bad timing and sense of opportunity. And then… AND THEN. We have Krestel in an unthinkable position! Marie Rutkoski has ended a book like many wouldn’t, she defied the “let the reader be happy” unspoken law: she broke my heart but in a beautiful and brilliant way. I never anticipated that last chapter and couldn’t have asked for more. It was pure perfection and it made up for some of the slow parts of the book.
*ARC received by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*