Published: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Strous and Giroux
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 402 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
Following your heart can be a crime
A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. 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: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself?
Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. she’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world…and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.
This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
Rutkoski has delivered again! The Winner’s Crime is the second book in her Winner’s Trilogy, and what a sequel it is. Intrigue, betrayal, and heartbreak abound. I read the synopsis for the third book and spoiled the ending of this one for myself, but it was still a pretty wild journey to the destination. I was kept guessing through the whole book!
The development of the plot was interesting, but as with many YA fantasies, I feel that it lacked the subtle development more commonly found in adult fantasy. Kestrel’s spying skills felt woefully inadequate considering that she was up against an emperor with years of experience in the art of manipulation. I knew she was going to get caught from the first awkward encounters that seemed so blatantly obvious to my reader’s eyes. Kestrel may have thought she was skilled at subterfuge, but her confidence was misplaced. Had she truly been clever she would have become closer to the prince or knifed the emperor at dinner. Not that mealtime regicide requires cleverness, but it would have taken Kestrel’s most devious enemy off the Bite & Sting playing field. I felt the prince was largely ignored as a potential ally or enemy- he felt extraneous and I was disappointed by this. Arin was playing his own hand of cards and simultaneously pining over Kestrel and loathing her, which displayed his ignorance of her character.
Though I just spent a whole paragraph fussing about what the characters should have done, I must confess that I still think they’re great. This is one of my new favorite YA fantasy series and it’s just incredibly engaging. I’ve had trouble putting these down and neglect my household responsibilities while reading. One of the best parts is that the most devastating betrayals in this installment come from where you least expect it. Rutkoski really threw me off with the last one and I always appreciate a good surprise!
I can’t recommend this series enough for fans of YA fantasy! If you haven’t read it yet, check it out because it’s so good. If you have, leave a comment below and let me know what you thought! Did I mention that The Melting Library has a Bite & Sting candle that sounds like it smells divine? It’s on my ever growing list of bookish candles that I want!