The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Crime by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy, #2
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 416
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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.

An installment that’s near impossible to get through, especially when the lead character – under some unmistaken belief – attempts to pay for a betrayal and ends up becoming a manipulative master of deceit, yet staying cowardly and immature when it really matters most. Kestrel went exactly in the opposite way I’d hope her character development would in the second book and I found it hard to see any form of redemption in a character I couldn’t bring myself to tolerate. Arin’s inexplicable trust in a woman who has done nothing but show indecision, coldness and petulance was baffling as well, and I couldn’t feel like I could see them as a compatible match, or even ‘fated pairs’.

There’s an incredible amount of time spent on the talk of games, both literally and metaphorically, which actually plays out in reality and war games and strategising where the courtroom mirrors the political situation. Yet I found myself getting tired of all the chess moves and the tactical retreat and advancing where nothing actually really happens right up until past the second half of the book.

Now incredibly wary of the third book, for fear of debilitating disappointment.