The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh. My. God!
This book was, quite simply, exquisite. It felt like a novel from an entirely different series. Personally, I found The Winner's Curse to be lackluster at best. Now, having read The Winner's Crime, I feel like the former book was merely a prequel to this masterpiece.
So, yeah. I liked it.
OK, brief synopsis: we open this novel with Kestrel in the Palace with the Emperor and her new fiancé Prince Verex. Arin is in Herran, running his new "independent territory". They pine for each other, but continue on with their lives and duties.
Where to begin? The writing in this novel was phenomenal. Rutkoski was a satisfactory writer in the first novel of this Trilogy, but it's like something clicked in her and her writing style is now sublime. I felt everything these characters felt because of her beautiful writing.
The relationship between Kestrel and Arin is so angsty. Anyone who knows me knows I love angst. I loved that things really didn't run smoothly for them - nothing like a few emotional barriers to make me ship them even more fiercely. The back and forth between them is beautiful: Kestrel's lying (and her emotional turmoil over it), Arin's desperation that he means more to her than Kestrel is letting on, Kestrel's fantasies about Arin, Arin's refusing to touch another woman because he always wishes it was her. This is the stuff truly loved book ships are made of.
The political side of this novel was also intriguing. This novel focused less on Kestrel and Arin's relationship (although there is still plenty of them to go around), which I think was a strong point. In the real world, people who are meant to be together are often kept apart by external forces. Kestrel and Arin both have their struggles for their respective countries and loved ones, entirely separate of each other. Oh, and any time the Emperor entered a scene, my heart started beating faster in fear. Literally.
Finally, the ending of this book made my soul weep... I won't say why (because spoilers), but I definitely was not fine when I finished this book. It's been a long time since a book made me so angry (in a gratifying way).
Overall, this book was an amazing work of art - I would recommend it to anyone who wants their heart served up to them on a platter, cut into tiny little pieces and garnished with salt. In a good way.
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