The Winner’s Crime – Marie Rutkoski
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Release Date: 12th March, 2015 (UK)
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 in this second book in the breathtaking Winner'strilogy
I had the pleasure of being allowed to review this book from Netgalley and I am eternally grateful I could. I immediately added it to my basket and have my pre-order in online after finishing it. I did have a lot of mixed feelings, though. I adored the book, like seriously, I loved every second of reading it. I fell more and more in love with Arin with every turn of the page and I adored Kestrel and my heart went out to her with every difficult decision she had to make. I was cheering the pair on and I was filled with joy, with despair, happiness and sadness, and absolute anger. I felt wrung out upon finishing, I experienced so many emotions and had been pulled in every direction by the writing that I felt exhausted upon finishing.
This book was the best kind of frustrating. It often made me grind me teeth, growl in frustration and tempt me to bang my head against a brick wall because I couldn't even deal with these characters. The story was beautifully written, the characters and their actions were perfectly understandable, I even understood why the misunderstanding which kept occurring happened, but God damn it still frustrated the crap out of me.
This book is all about frustration because as the story has progressed to the Valorian capital the game has changed for everyone. Kestrel is no longer the smartest person in the room, playing around with people who don't fully realise what she is doing. She is no longer the captive and Arin is no longer going unnoticed and able to scheme as he had when he had been a servant. The game has changed for everyone and they are in court where sneaking, fakery, lies and false flattery are rampant. Everyone has their own angle and they are all playing a game. A game which Kestrel and Arin don't know the rules for. Instead, they are left playing the game but don't know what rules the other is playing by so they each end up misunderstanding the other.
Arin's issue is that he has not realised that in court subtlety is key. It is not war which he is playing now, he has entered into a new game and does not even realise it. Then there is Kestrel, who fully realises what is going on, that she is surrounded by enemies who pretend to be friends, her problem is she is left mistrusting everyone to her detriment.
Again, this book has the most frustrating ending ever, a cliffhanger that almost led me to throwing my Kindle across the room, but it is so expertly done, Rutkoski wraps up just enough of the story that you feel satisfied, but leaves enough threads hanging that you left grasping for more. I cannot wait for the dazzling third book, I'm sure it will once more be great, but I only wish there was not such a long wait to receive it. I will undoubtedly be rereading these books sometime soon because this is a world which I adore with complex characters that you love and hate in equal measure, I would not resist visiting them again.
If you have not read the first book I strongly encourage you to do so because it was a fantastic read. It was one of my favourite books of 2014 and this one will undoubtedly be one of my favourites of 2015 because it is so original, it’s incomparable to anything I’ve read recently, and for that alone this series deserves more notice.