The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Trilogy, book #2
published on March 3rd 2015 by Farrar Straus Giroux
young adult | romance | fantasy | dystopia

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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.


After absolutely adoring all the action and intrigue in The Winner’s Curse, you could say that The Winner’s Crime was a bit of a tamer read in terms of the gritty action, but it definitely does not lack in intrigue.

This book gave us a deeper look into the politics and dark deceptions within Valoria, Herran, and even outside that. You think politics is boring? The Winner’s Crime will make you think otherwise. And gloriously, it was more showing than telling, so you wouldn’t feel like all the information’s being dumped all over you.

Kestrel still showed us that she’s a force to be reckoned with. She was deceptive, curious, and intelligent as always. And she always had the people’s best interests at heart. There isn’t a dull moment as long as this feisty heroine’s around.

While other people say that this book is a bit lighter on the romance, I would beg to differ. Personally, I thought the romance was still very prominent. I will always ship Arin and Kestrel, but for some reason, I found it hard to feel something for their relationship this time around. Maybe it was because Arin seemed a bit too bold for me, too formal and too regal for someone who used to be a slave.

The pacing was also a bit slower for this installment, since, like I mentioned earlier, the action was played down quite a notch here. I guess it was fine for me, since Marie Rutkoski’s writing is as gorgeous and elegant as ever, and just made the story more real and vivid.

It’s hard to pinpoint in particular why I gave this book a not-so-high rating, but it was probably for my lack of connection with the characters, considering the fact that I read this one when I was suffering from a huge reading slump.

*Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the review copy!


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About Aimee

Aimee loves being a little bookworm (okay–she doesn’t like being little). She also loves chocolates and sweets but is freaked out by the thought of possibly getting diabetes.

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12 thoughts on “Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

  1. Oooh interesting! I was the complete opposite – I didn’t really enjoy Curse but I absolutely adored Crime! I’m so glad there was so much more political intrigue, and I enjoyed the romance a lot more because it wasn’t the sole focus anymore. I loved exploring more of the land and getting to know Dacra too!


  2. Hehe, I think I’m opposite in that I LOVED this one and really wasn’t fussed on the first. lol IT’S DEFINITELY GORGEOUS AND FULL OF INTRIGUE. And omg, that torture scene at the beginning was really gross. I hadn’t read a book where the author hurts her characters decently in a loooong time. (Everyone always seems to “nearly” get hurt or just minorly hurt. I’m not a sadist! I swear! I just think things need to be realistic.) XD SO EXCITED FOR THE THIRD BOOK! That cliffhanger was unfaaaair.


  3. I actually liked this one much better than The Winner’s Curse! I think the action in the first was a bit MUCH for me, and I really liked this more intriguing, higher stakes situation. I think the romance was absolutely more intense, I agree with you there! The one thing about the romance that I DID find a bit off-putting (and I think it is my only real complaint with the book in general) is that the whole “oops, we keep misunderstanding each other” thing got kind of old after awhile. But overall, I enjoyed it. Sorry you were going through a slump while reading it though, that makes everything just a little less great. But a lovely review!


  4. I feel bad for saying this but girl I’m glad I’m not the only one. I have read some reviews for this one and while I do agree the plot was really interesting and everything kept me captivated, but I couldn’t connect with the characters. It stopped me from loving this book. But hopefully we’ll get that in the last one. Great review, Aimee :)


  5. Yes, the characters are quite different here than they were in the first book, I think the pressure from the impending war is really getting to them here. I totally love Kestrel and Arin as characters though, and hope that they get an epic conclusion in the next book. Great review Aimee!


  6. AWWW NOOO but yup, I totally get you with character disconnection. That can ruin everything for me, just because I find myself caring less if you know what I mean? Like Jeann said, I definitely felt like these two were a lot different from who they were in the start and unlike you, that made me relate a lot more for some reason. BUTTTT YESSS HER WRITING WAS SO MUCH MORE VIVID AND I LOVED IT! Beautiful review, Aimee! x


  7. I don’t think that I ended up enjoying this one as much as The Winner’s Curse either Aimee, I did like the different direction of this book though and once again Rutkoski’s writing was as gorgeous as ever! :)


  8. I didn’t like this book as much as The Winner’s Curse either. This book was just so depressing and slow. Kestrel was strategic and perceptive and cunning as usual. Arin annoyed me in this book, he was just perpetually angry. The romance was more angst and yearning than anything else. I loved the politics and deception as well, the world-building was epic! Lovely review <33


  9. I’ve heard the second book is much better than the first especially with the character growth and romance – The cover is really gorgeous though, great review <3


  10. I don’t think I loved this one as much as The Winner’s Curse, and yeah it was slower, but I loved the insight into the politics and the world, and the part Kestrel was playing in it, even if I got frustrated with her and Arin in parts, so I wasn’t that bothered about the pace, and I think that is definitely down to the writing. Because the. writing. I just <3. I do think it was lighter than the romance but heavy on the angst. Lots and lots of angst.


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