The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)
Title: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Release Date: March 3, 2015
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.
Okay. Okay. Okay. How do I recover from this book? HOW HOW HOW? Everything - and I do mean EVERY SINGLE THING - about this book got under my skin... and then proceeded to tear me apart from the inside. I can't remember the last time I felt this STRONGLY about a book. I was under the impression that The Winner's Crime wouldn't... I don't know... hurt that much (I have no idea where the hell this thought came from either) and I was WRONG. So so so wrong. It's been one full day since I finished the book and I STILL have this urge to scream and just plain freak out because ARIN. KESTREL.

Damn, a paragraph in and I'm already not making sense. This has to be a record.

One of the many, many things that amazed me about The Winner's Crime is how Rutkoski just upped her game. How the plot coasted along, the character development, even the writing... EVERYTHING. I didn't think that she needed to (because The Winner's Curse is already a pretty damn amazing book all in its own) but she did and WOW - I didn't think it was possible, but The Winner's Crime is a much, much better book than The Winner's Curse. Rutkoski already proved in the first book that she's a master in weaving intricate plots and that she takes such great detail in developing her characters, and she went ahead and continued doing that and MORE in this sequel. You're still at the edge of your seat, tearing through the pages because you just have to know what happens next, but at the same time, her writing this time around just made you FEEL more.


My heart was in my throat from the first page to the last, my throat somehow felt scratched and raw from all the pseudoscreaming I was doing in my head, and I was just so engrossed in my reading. Every word in the book resonated within me, and I just felt every single emotion that the characters felt. Rutkoski really makes you care for her characters, her story - you're just rooting for them to survive, to soldier on... to find their happy ending.

From the first book, Arin and Kestrel have always had a complicated relationship. Master and slave, friends, lovers, and yet bitter enemies, nothing was ever going to come easy for them. There has always been a push and pull between the two, and the looming choice that one of them would ultimately have to make. Who will be forced to choose between love and loyalty to his/her people? All this time both Arin and Kestrel have been toeing the line and playing both sides, but the walls are slowly but surely closing in. Moreover, Kestrel knows that the emperor is suspicious of her actions, and the nature of her relationship with Arin... and in order to throw him off, she has to pretend that Arin doesn't matter... that Arin never mattered.

To say that Arin and Kestrel frustrated me would be a massive understatement. There were so many lies, so may instances that logic played second fiddle to the sudden burst of strong emotions, and the lack of trust made me want to tear my hair off. How could Arin believe that Kestrel never cared? Why did Kestrel have to trick Arin? Why not just tell him the truth? I understand their reasons - believe me, I DO, but I just want them to sit down and talk. TALK. (And then maybe run away.) At the same time, however, as much I would have wanted to Arin and Kestrel to just throw the towel and run away and be together somewhere, I know that these characters could never ever do that to their people. That's not who they are. They have to see this through.
And essentially... that's why I love them. 
Another thing I love about The Winner's Crime is how Rutkoski further humanized her characters. They're so muti-faceted, and complicated, for the lack of a better word. I can't quite recall any other fantasy series having such realistic characterizations! I have never seen Kestrel stronger, more capable, and the same time lonelier, and I have never seen Arin so helpless and at the same time so fiercely determined. One of my favorite parts in The Winner's Curse is where Arin tells Kestrel that he doesn't care what happens to her people as long as he could keep her safe. Why, you may ask? It's because his statement is so refreshingly honest and realistic. Arin may love Kestrel, but that doesn't mean that he's suddenly willing to overlook everything that happened to him and his people. Real life doesn't work like that. Life is again, for the lack of a better word, complicated. Arin and Kestrel were never special snowflakes nor 'the chosen ones', and I think it's this fact about them that makes them enticing to read about.

To wrap this up, if you haven't read The Winner's Crime yet, READ IT. NOW. I mean, why on earth haven't you read it yet? The ending is heartbreaking (and such a cliffhanger) and I think I would gouge my eyes out if The Winner's Kiss doesn't finish on a happy note. Why must 2016 be so far away? I just want Arin and Kestrel to be happy and okay! THEY DESERVE ETERNAL HAPPINESS!

Okay... so before I start writing a novel on why Arin and Kestrel are perfect and should be together (and end up sobbing in a corner somewhere), I should end this review. Just... please... read this series!

(So much for trying to bottle up the feels while I write!)

Rating: 5 Stars


  1. YES! This book was torturous! I'm not sure how I can even wait for the next book. It was so painful, but I also love their relationship so much.
    I'm so happy you loved it, Lyra!
    Wonderful review!

    1. Thank you, Nick! :) You're right - the book was SO torturous. I just need Arin and Kestrel to be together!

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