"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."
Okay, this is a dazzling trilogy, but that cover is far from dazzling. It is more like... Ugly. Pure ugly. The dimensions are all off, and the contrast is awful. The red one is a tiny bit better, but not much. Let's just pretend that this cover never existed. Instead, a cover simply saying "The Winner's Crime" is that cover.
I like politics. And I hate it. But political thriller is definitely thrilling. And put it in a YA book? Makes it even more interesting. But the thing is that Kestrel is more on par with military strategy. So at court, she is like a fish out of water. She doesn't know politics as well as battle strategy, and she definitely isn't as good with words than soldiers and kingdoms and armies.
The star of this book is most definitely Kestrel. She brought herself into a dark, dark, deep hole of nowhere. She is trapped. Sort of like a damsel in distress, but she still has some breathing room. And the book is really interesting. Kestrel is trapped. No Arin. Practically no allies. And she is a court spy for Arin's people. The Moth. She only has so much time before the dirt covers her completely, and by the end of the book, you know that time has ran out for her.
Arin is here and there. He jumps all over the map, and I feel like he is a bit shaky. He is this. He is that. He becomes this person. He plays this person. He is that person. He is the other person. He is like a duality within a facade, within another facade. Exactly like a Russian doll. I'm hoping for a little more action from him, but it seems that he is still trying to find his footing.
The Winner's Crime's ending seriously made me regret reading this book so early. Marie Rutkoski revealed most of the cards, and oh my gosh, there are some major players. There is the crown prince. Princess Risha. Arin himself. Kestrel herself. That crown prince's father. And of course, a nice and dangerous poison. Gosh, I have to speculate what the next book is going to be like, but we will wait and see. Wait and see...
Overall, The Winner's Crime remains on par with The Winner's Curse. It isn't worse than The Winner's Curse. It isn't better. Still on the same page, so it isn't very bad. The WInner's Crime gives even higher stakes and even more deadlier game, but not with the same amount of suspense as The Winner's Curse. So...
(And I'm going to pretend that cover doesn't exist).
Rating: Four out of Five