Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Written by: Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Pages: 208, Hardback
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy, #2
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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 Curse was actually an ARC I won, and it was the first high fantasy book I ever read…And that book started me off an a crazy adventure. I now am obsessed with high fantasy books in probably a slightly unhealthy way. Though I will absolutely say this I’ve yet to run into another high fantasy book that has hit me the same way The Winner’s Curse series does (Throne of Glass is close, I’ll admit that). But the way that Marie Rutkoski writes just leaves me sitting there in awe. My heart is so broken I can’t see straight, but it was broken by something so beautiful that words easily escape me.

But let’s talk about The Winner’s Crime, shall we? Y’know how, in the Winner’s Curse, the stakes were so high the entire book? And that last of the 25% of the book you’re pulling your hair and screaming?

That’s The Winner’s Crime all over again.

Except this time the stakes are, somehow, raised even higher and everyone is playing a far, far more deadly game. Kestrel and Arin are no longer removed, even slightly, from the games of death and destruction and rebellion. They’re stuck right smack dab in the middle of everything, and now they’re fighting for their lives, and the lives of those that they care about. All while Kestrel especially is trying to find out who she is, and what she really, truly stands for, without sacrificing her life. And then once again we get smacked in the face with that pesky little final 25%.


The ending. No I’m kiding, the ending was really quite great even though it killed me dead. The truth about The Winner’s Crime is that the things that didn’t work for me in the book? Were all part of the plot. The book had moments where I was so frustrated and annoyed that I was ready to kill something. Normally when I get this frustrated with a book I put it down, I walk away, but there wasn’t ever a moment where I truly debated about putting it down. The book was masterful that way. But yes, I was so, very, very, annoyed with the characters and their thought processes. I wanted to shake both Arin and Kestrel then make them sit down and talk, and not just talk but listen.


One thing I have to talk about is Rutkoski’s writing style. That woman can spin a story and write words that break your heart in the most beautiful prose that you’ve ever had the pleaseure to read. I’ve read some of her other work and it’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but there is something about The Winner’s Curse series that just captivating, and attention grabbing. Often times you aren’t really aware of how amazing it is while reading, the story pulls you in and you’re just reading, but then you wind up looking for a quote you love and that’s when it hits you. This is the most gorgeous book ever.

I will forever love and hate the way that Arin and Kestrel are around each other. Because both are so unsure, both are so are so desperate to be happy but not sure what to do to get that happiness. Or if it can even really exist for them. Arin knows what he wants, or, well, he thinks he knows what he wants. But Kestrel? Her life is upside down. She’s fighting without knowing exactly what she’s fighting for, she feels like she’s making the right choice only to have it thrown back in her face. To say that throughout the entire book Kestrel is lost is a complete understatement. She has moments where she knows what she’s doing is right, where she can control those around her, and then moments where she completely absolutely loses it.


If you have read The Winner’s Curse you’ve probably already picked up this book because of the ending. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, just do it. You will hate me, and yet you will be so glad that you’ve read it.


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