The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publish Date: March 3, 2015
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy (Book 2)
Genre: Fiction – 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.
Marie Rutkoski is a literary genius. With The Winner’s Curse, and now The Winner’s Crime, she weaves together a beautifully crafted world, intense and remarkable characters, and a story that will make you wish you were living in the times of Lady Kestrel. The heartbreak of knowing that this world isn’t real? It’s painful.
The Winner’s Crime continues our story of Lady Kestrel. Her heart is the biggest character of this story, in my opinion. She is loyal, fierce, and stubborn. All traits that belong in a recipe of doom. Her engagement to the crown prince is joyous news to all, except Kestrel and Arin themselves. They both lie to themselves, and to all around them, in order to do what is right for all. But with secrets, spies, and treason, Kestrel is just more than a prisoner in her own world. She is a woman on the path to set the wrongs in her world, and to finally set her heart free.
Kestrel is an amazing heroine. She has all the attributes to put her right up there with other famous heroines. But what I think sets her apart from all others is her tenacity. Kestrel doesn’t let anyone stop her, not even the King of Valoria. She will stop at nothing to do what she feels is right, and sometimes that is her largest fault. She follows her gut, but will also listen to her brain. It’s an odd, yet fascinating combination of courage, might, and headstrong will.
Arin is Kestrel’s parallel. He is the character that you love and want to root for all the time. Arin is the character that you will feel has no faults, despite all the literary evidence around you. Rutkoski wrote him beautifully, piecing together layers and layers upon details and depth. He is complex and unpredictable. He is charming and that is deadly all in itself.
I love Rutkoski’s world. There is always something new to discover, regardless if it is a far away land, or within the walls of a castle. Rutkoski sets up the stage so perfectly that it allows for her characters to shine. The culture, the hierarchy, and the setting all present a fascinating world perfect for its characters. And Rutkoski’s writing? It’s mesmerizing. It allows for a reader to become fully captivated in all aspects of this tale. I was lost in her world, thinking it was real and I an inhabitant.
The Winner’s Crime will make you go through a roller coaster of emotions, and I think that is the best part about Rutkoski and her story. The Winner’s Crime is enjoyable and fascinating and satisfying. (And let’s not talk about that ending, because it will cause more tears.)