publication date: march 12th 2015
blurb: Lady Kestrel's engagement to Valoria's crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust ... While Arin fights to keep his country's freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this second book in the breathtaking Winner's trilogy. -goodreads"If you won't be my friend, you'll regret being my enemy."
Marie Rutkoski is not kind to Kestrel in this novel, nor is she compassionate towards reader's feelings. Reading THE WINNER'S CRIME was like being pulled deeper and deeper into an ocean of anger, lies, betrayal, secrets and pain - with an ending that well and truly drowned your heart in a pit of an indescribable emotion that only readers would understand: a cliffhanger of epic proportions does immense things to your emotions, this one was even greater than the first book.
Much darker, much deadlier, and as twisted as you would expect, moving on from The Winner's Curse. Rutkoski's detail of plot is what I appreciated the most: it was so clever and written so beautifully you can't help but love every second - even though the events unfolding are far from cheerful - and the way the political aspect of the book was dealt with was something that seem quite unique to YA, much more delicately done than more obvious attempts to deal with a 'political problem' in other books. An aspect of this series that I am paticularly in love with is how Kestrel was strong from the beginning: she was cunning and strategic and could hold her own - in comparison to many other popular YA books at the moment, this is very rare, in the sense that other main female protagonists usually learn to become strong: it is part of their character development - but this time, the main protagonist already is strong; she just has to learn to use her talents in the right way. Overall, THE WINNER'S CRIME blew me away and is one of the best books I have read this year...now I just have to wait for the final installment-