Monday, February 16, 2015

Title: The Winner's Crime
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Curse, book #2
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux BYR
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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 one of my favorite reads of 2014, and its sequel did not disappoint. This installment was as powerful and evocative as the first book but twice as heart-breaking. And so much darker than the first.

Rutkoski used this novel to explore her characters in more depth, to show us what makes them tick, and in doing so, she's made the series even stronger. The romance is on the back burner for now, putting the political intrigue and threat of war at the forefront, but that doesn't mean that Kestrel and Arin are separated for the entire novel. Though when they are together, there is so much tension between them that it's almost palpable. They speak sparingly, but what is said is purposeful. Yet, as is often the case with forbidden love such as theirs, their encounters often lead to misunderstandings and wounded pride and general agony -- for the characters and the reader.

Kestrel is ever the strategist, and just because she's accepted her role as fiancé to the emperor's son, doesn't mean she's stopped plotting and planning. But for all of her scheming and strategizing, she can't predict what Arin's going to do or what trouble he'll find himself in. It was pretty obvious in the first book that Arin was the more emotional of the pair, but it's even more apparent in The Winner's Crime. In this sequel, he spends a lot of time reflecting on his feelings toward Kestrel and analyzing her actions and how she might feel about him. And to be fair, Kestrel does send a lot of mixed (read: secret) messages, and Arin isn't as savvy with the subterfuge as Kestrel. Things happened rather quickly at the end of the last novel, and Kestrel was engaged to someone else before they ever got to discuss their feelings…not that it mattered much since Arin is Herrani and Kestrel is Valorian and a union between the two is next to impossible.

While a lot of their thoughts might be for each other, both Kestrel and Arin are determined to aide the Herrani people and keep the Valorian empire in check…separately and in their own ways, of course. The Emperor and General Trajan obviously have other ideas, and Kestrel does her best not to betray her own people while helping Arin's, but it is a very fine line she walks. And her soon-to-be father-in-law is a very suspicious man. Kestrel is under constant scrutiny and is forced to make some very difficult decisions, but sacrifices must be made for the greater good. Kestrel can only rely on herself, and it's mostly because of this that she keeps Arin at such a distance.

Betrayal seems imminent. Friendships are severed. Love does not conquer all. And that ending was pure torture! There is no guarantee of a happy ending here. Some stories you at least have an inkling that things will end well...maybe not for everyone, but on the whole, things will be alright. But I'm terrified of what Rutkoski will put us through in the next book. I expect it'll be the darkest book of all. Though I'm sure I'll love every torturous second of it because if nothing else, these books are absolutely captivating.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Marie Rutkoski is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including The Winner’s Curse (March 2014). She grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois as the oldest of four children and decided early on that she was Someone Who Loved Books.

After attending the University of Iowa and living in Moscow and Prague, she studied Shakespeare at Harvard University, where she honed her skill in referring to herself in the third person.

Marie is now a professor of English literature at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance drama, children’s literature, and fiction writing. New York City is her home, and she thinks there must be birds of prey living in Washington Square Park; she can see large, wheeling wings from the window where she sits and writes. Marie has two small sons who try very hard to make friends with the family cat, only to be snubbed for the dark quiet of a closet. Marie can tie a double figure-eight knot with her eyes closed. She’s learning how to play the violin. She’s a sucker for fancy tea, and her favorite dessert is crème brulée. Or maybe sticky toffee pudding. Tough call.

Find Marie:

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  1. Yes, yes, I'm reading the first book soon, okay? :P

    1. Yay! I hope you love it! And at least you can pick this sequel up immediately after. :P

  2. This sounds SO GOOD! I can't wait to read it! :)

  3. I haven't actually read any of the books in this series et, but I own the first one so I should really get round to reading that! Especially because I have seen nothing but outstanding reviews for each one.


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