Review: The Winner’s Crime

Posted March 22, 2016

Review: The Winner’s Crime The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Published by Bloomsbury on March 2015
Genres: YA Fantasy, Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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.

Do you ever shout at the tv? You’re watching a film or a tv series and shouting almost pantomime-style “he’s behind you” or “no, don’t go in there”, “just tell him”, “kiss him you idiot”? (Hopefully that’s not just a Rhoda-thing.) Well I found myself doing that a lot with this book. A LOT!

Obviously if you haven’t read the first book (you can find my review here) then don’t keep reading this post. Maybe hop over and enter my wee giveaway instead? You could pick The Winner’s Curse as your prize?

Ok so, this book is largely set in the Valorian Capital. Having agreed to marry Prince Verex in order to save the lives of Arin and his people, Kestrel is living in the Palace. She is under the watchful eye of Emporer, whose evil character continues to develop throughout this book. As for Arin, per the terms of the treaty, he is now Governer of Herran. He is unaware of Kestrel’s sacrifice though, the reason she is engaged to the Valorian Prince, and in this book we soon see that Kestrel has no intention of telling him.

There are various events happening at the Palace to mark the engagement of Lady Kestrel and Prince Verex. Respresentatives from far and wide are expected to attend, which inevitably includes Arin. It’s Kestrel’s belief that acting coldly toward Arin, hiding her true feelings is for the best. Yet she makes a secret agreement with Arin’s advisor Tensen to spy for him, to help Arin and Herran from inside the Palace… on the condition that Arin knows nothing about it.

My internal shouting at the book was a result of the ongoing situation with Kestrel and Arin – Kestrel’s seeming rejection of Arin, Arin’s belief that Kestrel is hiding something, the fact that they’d meet and I just wanted Kestrel to tell the truth! I think reading from the perspectives of both characters intentisies this feeling for the reader, well it certainly did for me. While I may have found this somewhat frustrating, I simultaneously found it utterly addictive – I couldn’t stop reading.

It was interesting to see an expansion of the world that Rutkoski created in the first book. I discussed in my review of The Winner’s Curse my interest in the world, its cultures and customs. Book two expands upon this somewhat as well as introducing us to the people and cultures of Dacra.

I also found the further exploration of Kestrel’s relationship with her father to be interesting. You’ll recall Kestrel’s desperate need to please her father in the first book, I enjoyed the development of that relationship in this book.

There are both old and new characters in this book. There’s cruelty, torture, hatred but there’s also friendship, new alliances, love and a tiger (I just thought I’d throw that in there).

In all honesty, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first. I kind of felt like this book is bridging the gap, setting things up for book three. Maybe I’m totally wrong in saying that, but that’s just the feeling I had. I’ve already started The Winner’s Kiss which is out in the UK later this week. I’m hoping for more action, less internal shouting on my part and an epic ending to the series. I’ll let you know my thoughts soon!

What were your thoughts on The Winner’s Crime?

Did you enjoy it as much as the first book?