Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner’s Crime (Book 2 in The Winner’s Trilogy)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: 2015
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.

My Rating: Red-StarRed-StarRed-StarRed-Star 1/2

Yes! This absolutely delivered the type of sequel I thirsted for after The Winner’s Curse. I think it’s time to admit that I love this series to pieces, even more than The Lunar Chronicles. The Winner’s Trilogy continues in its second installment with The Winner’s Crime and we pick up the story of Kestrel and Arin.

This is a non-spoilery review of this book and I have nothing but praise: carefully constructed language, complex characters, spot-on world building and well paced middle book. In this book we get a good look at the true antagonist of the series – The Emperor and he’s such a well-done villain that he just gets under your skin and you hate him so much. I am always impressed when a writer can accomplish that level of discomfort.

Kestrel is (my bae) such an amazing female protagonist. She’s such a breath of fresh air in a genre littered with mediocrity and Mary-Sues. For a moment there I was afraid that the book would fall into the love-triangle that seems to plague middle books of trilogies but it did nothing of the sort. Kestrel is just so smart, calculating, strong yet naive, she’s vulnerable but she hides it behind walls upon walls. She both hates and loves that she yearns for her father’s love but recognizes his faults as a man and he can bring her to a whimpering child.

Arin could have gone the route of annoyance in his feelings towards Kestrel but Rotkoski is so crafty in his portrayal that she really truly shows you both sides of the equation. You understand what he feels, his frustration and his hate for his love of Kestrel. This book is pure angst but it’s well done angst because it’s rather reflective in nature.

I loved the world-building, in this book Rutkoski crafts this small but frail and angry world that they all live in and introduces a third set of people who we get to know and understand. I truly loved it, I have no cause for complain. I am dying to pick up the final book but at the same time I fear I might never find another YA Fantasy series that I’ve enjoyed as much as I have this one. It’s going to be hard trying to meet this standard.

My suggestion is READ THESE SERIES. It translates excellent to adults, loads of court intrigue and multi-dimensional characters but still teen friendly and something different than the normal fluff.

P.S. I still can’t get over these ridiculous book covers, they’re not ugly they just don’t fit the overall mood to me

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