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.
(This might contain spoilers of The Winner's Curse)
The Winner's Crime broke me.
Technically it hasn't been released yet, so I will try my best not to include any spoilers of The Winner's Crime. But damn, the feels! The emotions are a brutal hit right in my face. I haven't felt that much anger and sadness and hatred (yes, hatred) for a long time. Marie Rutkoski really knows what she's doing with her words. I thought I was ready to read this book, and then I read it, and I realized I hadn't been ready at all. I'm so mentally exhausted after reading this.
The book is basically wrapped in deception and lies. Mostly deception, which is even more interesting. There are plenty of exciting parts in the book, when Kestrel deceives everyone, fooling them into believing her loyalty. She's deadly smart on that account. While reading a book of high suspense and where blades surrounds the main characters is absolutely fun, it brings along mind-crippling emotions now, unlike The Winner's Curse. I know it's basically an age-old plot of a girl hiding stuff from the boy in the name of keeping him safe, while pushing him away as hard as she can (or vise versa, depends on the book), wrapped in a million layers of lies and deceit, and the danger of war. Somehow I can still be crushed by the plot. I might have to say I'm a little pissed at the plot, but I can't deny it's amazing to turn an old plot into something extraordinary.
I guess the only thing that actually angers me is the attitude of both Kestrel and Arin. Oh yeah, I don't regret my wish for them to be rivals and only rivals. I guess that's the worse case of "love can make someone blind", because it seems like both of them has lost the ability of critical thinking. First is Kestrel. I guess it kind of make sense that the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to telling Arin the truth. I can't really blame her for being desperate and leap over the edge and help her supposed enemy. But the need makes her unreasonably cruel to Arin. Was that necessary? I don't think so, not even when the king is watching them like a hawk. I feel for her, but I can't say I agree with her actions. Arin pisses me off even more. It seems like I'm always pissed at him at some point. Where has his logic gone? He should make his own assumptions based on evidence and logic and not feelings alone. (I'm a science student and it's not easy for me to understand his emotionally-driven mind) I feel detached from him, because he isn't like that calculating and cunning character in the first book anymore. They're better off as rivals, seriously. It can save me from raging out.
The book ends in a note like Heir of Fire, just like The Winner's Crime ends in a note like Crown of Midnight. After all the emotions that I've been dragged through while reading the book, I can't take an ending like that. Please, for the love of gods, please give me the final book! I want to see more badass Kestrel now. I want to know if things will turn out well (or should I say, well enough, because I don't think it's one of those HEA endings where everything is just fine at the very end of the series). I want to know if the last book will brutally massacre all my feelings again. I can't even read any new books because I keep thinking about Bridge of Snow, which is a prequel novella of The Winner's Curse. I keep thinking about whether there's any connection between the short story and the trilogy.