Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Publication Date: 12th March 2015

Huge thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
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.

So a few days ago I read ‘The Winner’s Crime’ and loved it. So much love. So hard. And so as soon as I finished it I leaped straight into the second book in the trilogy and re-immersed myself in Kestrel and Arin’s world once more.
The worry with the second book in a trilogy when the first book was just so good that you wanted to throw it at anyone and everyone and demand that they read it, is that it just won’t live up to your expectations. Luckily Rutkoski is an incredibly gifted writer and this instalment more than held its own against the first book.

The sequel is much darker than the first book, with Kestrel now hidden in the heart of the Empire and engaged to the Emperor’s son. No conversation can be guaranteed to be unheard, no secret uncovered and it gives the entire book a very tense and on edge feeling as you wait, breathlessly, for it all to fall apart. Because this is the point where everything inevitably falls apart. It’s tense and terrifying and I stormed through this book even faster than the first one, desperately trying to find out what happens. That said the pacing is quite slow, almost torturously slow at points, so that the tension has really hit breaking point by the end of the book.

I missed Herran terribly, just as Kestrel does, but at the same time it was wonderful to have the world expanded. To discover new territories and people and to find out more about the Valorians. As well as new places a whole host of new characters were also on offer, as well as some familiar faces from the first book. The Emperor is a truly terrifying man, and he seeps through the book even in the sections where he isn’t present. I was never quite sure how he might react or lash out next, and I cannot wait to see even more of him in the final instalment.

Kestrel is brilliantly expanded in this book and I loved watching her try and come to terms with herself, her choices and her culture. She is turning into a truly formidable woman and an incredible heroine. She isn’t strong in the physical sense, but she is sharp and quick and incredibly devious. She calculates, schemes, spies and above all, tries desperately to do the right thing in an increasingly difficult and shifting landscape, and I love her for that.
Arin takes a slight backseat in this novel – that isn’t to say that he isn’t present, he is and fighting his own battles and to become his own man and lead his people to a better future. His journey is simply quieter than Kestrel’s, and it takes him far longer to put the pieces together. With all the discoveries and revelations lining up by the end of the novel I am eagerly anticipating watching them all come together in what is sure to be a climactic finale.

Everything that I loved about the first book was abundant – the beautiful prose, the gut wrenching heartbreak, the intrigue, lies and spying. It was a fantastic continuation of the story and like a game of Bite & Sting sets up the final book to be even better than its predecessors. If you haven’t yet read ‘The Winner’s Crime’ I cannot recommend it enough. Go, read it and then launch straight into this book to delay the book hangover you will experience when you’re forced to leave this book and wait for the final novel.


  1. AHHH! I love this series so much. Such great characters and world and just EVERYTHING.

    1. I KNOW! Such a massive book hangover when I finished these two! And now I don't know how to wait for the third one!