Thursday, 23 April 2015

Book Review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015

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.
I received a copy of an ARC of this book, thanks to On The Same Page for their ARC Tours! I was not compensated in any shape or form for this review. I just happened to enjoy reading The Winner's Curse and was interested in reading the sequel.

Warning: spoilers for The Winner's Curse.

Where we last left off from The Winner's Curse, Kestrel discovers that there has actually been a revolution going on in her home town. She would have, most likely, never found out about this if it wasn't for Arin- the slave she had brought at the beginning of the book. Of course, this is because he was part of the revolution in the first place. It is meant to free the Herrani from the Valorians- from people like Kestrel.

Due to the fact that her closest friend, Jess, ingested poison at the ball Kestrel made a promise to her to take revenge against the Herrani. She still desires to do just that but, due to her growing romance with Arin, she finds herself conflicted on how she should handle the situation. In the end, she decides to flee from Arin and hide herself on a ship that will take her to the emperor. She manages to convince him to let the Herrani to keep their land but to still let it be under Valorian control. In return, though, she accepted the engagement to the emperor's son.

Now we get to see Kestrel preparing herself to become the queen and, despite everything, she's unsure that she could properly handle the role. There are those who feel like she can handle it but there are others who are more than happy to see her fall just as fast. She knows she must keeps her wits abound lest she finds herself between a rock and a hard place.

Meanwhile, Arin is back in his hometown and is struggling to ensure that his people will survive another year. Due to the fact that his home is still owned by Valorians, they still request plenty of them- one of them being the crops they grow. They're forced to give so much that there's not enough to give around to the Herranis. It's not right and Arin knows he has to attempt to do something. His people are suffering - he can't let this happen.

Kestrel grows significantly in this book. In the first book, she's slightly ignorant with what's going on around her despite how intelligent she is with military tactics. In this book, she has no choice but to adapt to her current situation and she handles it really well. She puts her intelligence to good use in order to help the Herrani. This is balanced by how she's required to present herself as the future queen. Needless to say, it wouldn't look good on her part if she's seen consorting with someone her people immensely dislike.

Arin remains as confused as ever. He is sure about how he feels about Kestrel, but he is incredibly unsure about how she feels. When he does get the chance to talk to her (which is minimal, at best) when he finds himself as the representative of his people in an attempt to convince the emperor to not take as much crops, he knows she's hiding something from him. He's not quite sure what it is, but it's something... and it must be something big for him to want to hide it from her.

There's so much going on in this book this time around but every little thing in it is important. It's also more subtle with Kestrel's actions and words that it may take a little bit for everything to process properly. Every character has something to gain and lose and it's so incredibly painful to read for her and Arin. All of it truly made me feel like I couldn't trust anyone in the story because you never know who could be working for who or if someone is willing to pay for the information that you try so hard to keep a secret.

I must admit, though, I found myself liking Prince Verex- the man who she's engaged to. He's the opposite of his father and I really like that. He doesn't care much about war (which might be one of the biggest reasons why the emperor wanted Kestrel to be the queen in the first place with her skills in strategy) and I like that about him. He's calmer and relaxed... but he also knows his place in the world. He knows what needs to be done.

I'm not quite sure about Tensen though. He's the one who ended up being like the third party and keeping her connected to the Herrani in secret. I kind of felt like he had some sort of agenda that he didn't feel like revealing. But considering how treacherous everyone is in this world, I'm not surprised that thought crossed my mind.

The ending though... the ending! It truly took me by surprise. I don't want to say much more, because of spoilers, but I am definitely interested in what's to come in the next book. I'm sure both Amber and I will be jumping at the opportunity when the time comes!

Until next time! : D

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