Friday, March 13, 2015

*YA Fantasy Book Review* The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Series: The Winner's Trilogy # 2
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Released: March 3, 2015
Source: Publisher
Format: E-Book, 400 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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.

The Winner's Crime picks up about a month after the end of The Winner's Curse. The story is told in alternating narratives by Lady Kestrel, and Arin, the current governor of Herran. Crime is a much more politically centered book than Curse was. Crime is a bit darker, deadlier, and less focused on the romance between Kestrel and Arin than Curse was. Crime is a delicious blend of conspiracies, secrecy, plotting, counter plotting, egos, and adds yet another element to the series by traveling to the east where the Queen of Dacron awaits.

The Winner’s Crime is where Kestrel goes head to head with the Emperor whom she made a deal with to save the Herrani people, and thus Arin from being annihilated. Now engaged to Prince Verex, she must walk a tightrope between what is right, what is expected from her, while gaining allies and enemies. Kestrel must make more hard decisions in Crime than she did in Curse. I like how Rutkoski made Kestrel more of a complex heroine, with intelligence, passion, while no longer being the spoiled child we saw in Curse. She makes some interesting choices, and in the end, she's left with only hope in her arsenal.

Don't mind me folks, but I really feel a bit for Verex. I know that he is a pawn in this entire game, but nobody seems to care what his feelings about any of this truly means except perhaps Risha, a cast-off princess from the East. In reality, Verex is hardly a danger to anyone except perhaps himself, and I do believe that if given the chance, could become a much needed ally. On the other hand, I distrusted Arin and his foolish behavior. At times, he acted like a spoiled boy who had his play time taken away from him. I will say that his travels to the East was interesting, and leave it at that due to not wanting to spoil the book.

The Winner's Curse ends on a very brutal manner, and now we have to wait until 2016 to find out what happens next. I do believe this is the first time that we've seen Kestrel and her father actually interact with each other. I would hope that they could come to some understanding in the future, but I do believe that Rutkoski isn't going to go that easy on anyone. While Crime was mostly centered in Herran, Curse takes place in Valoria and the East which is currently at war with the Valorians.

**I received this book for free from (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Other Books in series: