Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Number of Pages: 402
Date Published: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Actual rating: 4.5 stars
Following your heart can be a crime
A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. 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: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself?
Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. she’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world…and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.
This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
Note: This will be a short review.
I do remember my incessant grumbling when I talked about The Winner’s Curse, but put that aside for a moment, if you please. You see, after reading this book, I’ve decided to bury said objections where they may be irretrievable, because I love love love love this second installment!
Rutkoski has done so many beautiful things here. Her writing is exceptional (as always), but the faultless pace and the consistent nerve-wracking atmosphere fused in every chapter were beyond my expectations.
What topped my praise list, however, is the amount of intrigue the story has managed to integrate into my system. The conspiracy, the counter-plots, the connivance, the treason, down to the most trifling machinations – Every chapter is a mind game, every place a danger, and one small move can screw relationships and take away innocent lives.
The world building has expanded to include the Eastern territory and its dwellers, and although the fabrication isn’t as pronounced as that of other fantasy novels, it is still not something that should be considered trivial. After all, the expansion did bring about interesting developments.
I enjoyed most of the characters this time, especially Kestrel. Her strategic skills are top notch, so long as she wills her mind to fixate less on Arin. Arin, I felt, was a bit slow this time around. No matter, I believe his craftiness has not receded (yet, hopefully never). The book still has the occasional cardboard cut-outs, but fortunately, Kestrel and Arin were enough to move me (well, my stone heart) a little. I’m not getting carried away here.
What I liked most about the second book? Why, the endings of course! Every chapter ends with a demand to read the next. Each one is filled with questions, surprises, and hints of secrecy that’ll make you think like stopping midway is a crime. I am appalled by this confession, but the actual ending made me bang my fists on pillows.
I need to take the last book into custody immediately.
Favorite Quotes from The Winner’s Curse
“If you won’t be my friend, you’ll regret being my enemy.”
“Sometimes you think you want something,” Arin told him, “when in reality you need to let it go.”
“Marry him,” Arin said, “but be mine in secret.”