“…people aren’t gaming pieces. You can’t arrange them to suit yourself.”
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’s trilogy.
The Winner’s Crime upped the game! As Arin and Kestrel world expands readers are now treat with a more thrilling and deadlier plot game. The rules are more complicated, the villain is more menacing, and the stakes are higher.
After making a deal with the emperor in the previous book The Winner’s Curse to save Arin and his people, Kestrel find herself trapped in a more dangerous game. Her engagement to the Valorian’s crown Prince is nothing but a task she needs to fulfill in order to continue save Arin. She needs to continue convincing the emperor, Arin, and everyone around her with all her lies. But how long can she pretend? What if her deceiving skill is not enough to protect the one she love or even herself?
Herrannis on the other hand are now free from being slaves and prisoners of their own land but for Arin that is not enough. The Valorians are still getting much of their resources. He needs to find a way to fully get out of Valorians grasp while trying to get Kestrel back. But what if Kestrel doesn’t want to go back? And can he find an allies against the Valorians to fully free Herran and at what cost?
Marie Rutkoski continue Arin and Kestrel’s story with full intensity. All the lies, betrayals, scheming and plotting both personal and political carry intricacy and weight of feels in them. Every moves and decisions are affecting not only the playing characters but also the readers.
In this complicated game of politics, love, lies and alliances Kestrel is trap with a frigthening opponent – the emperor. Equally cunning and smart, and probably more devious than Kestrel, the emperor like many good villain is utterly compelling. His addition to the story makes this second installment more thrilling and ultimately engaging. With him as an antagonist Kestrel need to be more careful in her moves. She can’t trust anyone, not when she knows that the emperor is capable of controlling the game and every players inside it.
Other than the game with the emperor, Kestrel also playing a dangerous game of lies with Arin. As she tried to help the Herranis by being their spy she is also building huge wall between her and Arin through her lies. And Arin as expected knows she is lying and will do anything to uncover all the lies which may negate Kestrel’s effort to protect him and his people. These two though clearly care for each other do things that may frustrate readers, but nevertheless a welcome frustration. All the misunderstanding and unsaid thoughts between Arin and Kestrel are carefully put to evoke feelings from the readers. The intricate dance that Arin and Kestrel is doing is not only emotionally taxing but also exhilarating. A roller coaster ride of emotions that I personally enjoy riding.
“Sometimes you think you want something,” Arin told him, “when in reality you need to let it go.”
With its rich characterization, stunning world building, clever plotting Marie Rutkoski’s successfully pushed The Winner’s series to higher level. She deliver another thrilling, emotionally taxing, and compelling story through Arin and Kestrel’s complicated and highly imaginative world.
The fact that I’ve done a reread few breath space after I’ve first finished this novel and another one before writing this review tells how good The Winner’s Crime is. I can’t get enough and obviously didn’t want to leave the world yet. If only I have the third/final book, I’m sure my life will be less miserable. Looking forward for more of Kestrel and Arin’s story and the dangerous game they are playing.
* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) via NetGalley.