Review: "The Winner's Crime" (The Winner's Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary from GoodReads

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.

BUY ON AMAZON (click the covers) the third book is up for PRE-ORDER!


Winning what you want may cost you everything you love...

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

 War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks.

But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win?


 I was able to gather my wits and write my review about the second book. While the first one was a great start with strong world-building and characters who had, and still have, many obstacles before them, the second book was a gut-tearing read.

While Kestrel tries to come to terms with her decisions and Arin can't get over his feelings for her, the Emperor, her father and the court become a nice golden prison for her, full of secrets and spies. I was relieved that there was no second love interest (since we are presented at the prince) since that would be an epic fail and a common book which suffers 'second-book-syndrome'. Arin was the character who had to deal with many responsibilities while Kestrel felt more like a martyr rather like a woman who was so strong willed on the first book.

She does try to save Arin with everything she has at her disposal, kniwing that on the path to do so she loses Arin. The ending was another epic cliffhanger with which I will have to deal until 2016. And the Emperor? Think King of Ardalan from "Throne of Glass" but less malicious. That's why I hope all the fiction emperors will die!

About the author:

 Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner's Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children's literature and fiction writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.