Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date - March 3, 2015
Publisher Website - Raincoast/Macmillan
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 416 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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 end of The Winner's Curse found Kestrel risking everything for the person she loves and engaged to someone else as a result. It left Arin professing that the god of lies loved her and me dying to read the next novel immediately. The Winner's Crime once again has Kestrel risking everything for love. There is more than enough heartbreak to leave you both crushed and desperate for the, sure to be, stunning finale.

Marie Rutkoski's subtle and skilled writing weaves a magical spell. She's created a world that feels entirely fantasy like without it really being fantasy. She weaves together the romance, betrayal, and danger to create a tension filled, unputdownable read. This series is one that immediately draws you into it's world, and it's characters and that is because of Marie's writing.

This story's heart is it's love story. There are different kinds of love stories within these pages. The love of your country, the love between a parent and child, the love of friendship and the romantic kind. Arin and Kestrel's love story is both beautiful and aching. The teasing, just out of reach nature of their relationship leads to a deliciously torturous 'will they-won't they' dynamic to their interactions. The stakes of their love are real and severe and all of this adds up to an unforgettable romance that is breathtaking. This particular chapter of their story is remarkable as it is a love story without actually being a love story. The all too brief moments they share in this book will not be enough for those who fell in love with them in The Winner's Curse, but the moments that are included felt more meaningful as a result.

The engagement at the end of The Winner's Curse left me torn. I expected a love triangle to plague the pages of this novel, and I was eager to dislike the crown prince upon introduction. Prince Verex however is the exact opposite from what I was expecting. That triangle I feared? Not even an issue. This story has way more going on than needing to create more drama with a flimsy love triangle. There is the potential for Kestrel and Verex to be happy together, and perhaps under different circumstances they could be. I, personally however, think it's obvious where her heart lies at this moment.

This particular chapter of the story is a study in communication and perception. In particular how perception and lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings. There were so many times I wanted to just force these characters to talk and communicate. Our self doubts lead to our viewpoints and often prevent us from considering other views than our own. We don't consider other explanations than the one we've convinced ourselves of. This novel is fraught with scenarios where misunderstandings lead to rash decisions and angst. As all of this unravels Marie crafts a stunning story of rebellion, and secrets that is equally as impressive as this series' first novel.

As much as the love story captivates, it's the other elements that are allowed to shine in this sequel. Seeing Kestrel live with the consequences of her actions, and having it actually impact her and form her character. Seeing the ever building tension that will undoubtedly lead to war. The characters are like chess pieces in an elaborate and brutal chess game. The giving and taking of hope and faith that each of these characters experiences only adds to the brutality and heartache that you feel. This is a story that doesn't offer any reassurances and I appreciate that.

A romantic, compelling, and complex story that reminds you of the importance of trust and communication and how they cannot thrive in an environment of tension and rebellion. Marie Rutkoski once again leaves you desperate to continue Kestrel's journey with her and wishing upon all the gods that this romance has a happily ever after, even as a war and rebellion are brewing that make the promise of such an ending exceedingly unlikely.

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