Also by this author: The Winner's Curse, The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)
Also in this series: The Winner's Curse
Published by Farrar on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 402 •Format: Hardcover •Source: Purchased
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 book took me a month and a half to read, and another month to muster up the motivation to write a review. If you know me, you know this amount of time and procrastination is unusual; however, my feelings for this book ended up being so completely opposite what I thought there were going to be that I dreaded revisiting them during the review-writing process.
Don’t get me wrong, this novel was filled with Rutkoski’s beautiful writing style and lyrical way of describing everything from settings to emotions. However, after the perfection that was The Winner’s Curse, which I fell head over heels in love with, I was left sorely disappointed. This is very much a second book in a trilogy, or a “bridge book.” Despite it being set in the Valorian capitol (a prospect I was initially excited about because I wanted to learn so much more about these warrior people and their sense of entitlement and imperialism), it was extremely slow, mainly setting things up for the final installment in the trilogy rather than carrying a compelling plot on its own. While The Winner’s Curse carried a thick tension like that of a chess game or of one walking on a tightrope, where each character was walking such a thin line and could fall off of a precipice with even one wrong move, the tension in Crime was mainly my growing irritation of wanting something to happen, anything. Satisfaction was only granted in the last few pages of the book, with a terrible cliffhanger ending.
Character development in this installment was also so-so. I was intrigued by getting more glimpses into Kestrel and her father’s relationship, which seems strained at best but is bound by a deep foundation of loyalty, and seeing whether familial loyalty or government loyalty would take precedence. I was hoping for some illicit romance between Arin and Kestrel in the capitol, but they literally spent the entire novel being awful to each other (for certain underlying motivations, of course) or having such a massive lack of communication about important plot elements that it became almost absurd. I was excited to see how the dynamic of Kestrel’s engagement to the emperor’s son would impact her and Arin’s relationship (I do love a well-done love triangle, and believe me, it would’ve added some much needed intrigue for this book) but it mainly just served as a choke hold to keep her in the emperor’s grasp (I can’t even remember his son’s name, that’s how inconsequential he was). However, there was the introduction of an Eastern princess held in the capitol as a royal prisoner that proves to provide an interesting plot line for the rest of the trilogy.
Overall: This book gets a solid 3 stars from me because I love Rutkoski’s writing style and I still have faith in Kestrel. However, it’s slow pacing, lack of communication between Kestrel and Arin, and emphasis on setting up for the last novel rather than standing on its own story telling merit prevented me from enjoying it more. This book is very much about Kestrel’s world coming apart, and I love her enough as a protagonist to still be invested in seeing her journey through in The Winner’s Kiss despite this being a bit of a let down.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge