The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I’m not really sure why I waited so long to continue with this series. I read The Winner’s Curse last year and really enjoyed it. Regardless, I’m extremely happy I decided to enter back into this world. I think all the hype from my friends that have read The Winner’s Kiss helped.

“He, too, felt how the heart chooses its own home and refuses reason.”

I am kind of shocked at how emotional I got while reading this. I think the love between Kestrel and Arin is just so pure that it actually hurts to read about and see them not together. I’m not really sure how Marie Rutkoski executes this so perfectly, but she does. Like, the amount I care for these two fictional characters’ well being is probably incredibly unhealthy. I’m legitimately too invested in these characters.

My dislike for Jess was pretty abundant in this book. I understand her feelings towards Arin, but Kestrel saved her in the last book. Kestrel is her best friend, and has been since childhood. Kestrel’s loneliness is actually palpable, and she’s going to abandon her? I’m done with that girl, and I hope Kestrel is too. I do want more Ronan in the next book, even though he behaved like a child in this book. I guess my feelings for him in The Winner’s Curse are carrying over. My heart also breaks for Prince Verex. I hope we also get more from him in The Winner’s Kiss, but I won’t hold my breath from that cliffhanger ending. Seriously, is my anxiety really going to be dependent on a dead moth? Hold me, please.

This book is mostly political with strong emphasis on alliances. It mostly centers on Kestrel’s time living in the Valorian Empire. Here, she is promised to marry the Emperor’s son, Prince Verex, in trade for the freedom of the Herrani people. Even though Kestrel’s body has escaped Herran’s city, her heart sure hasn’t. She has postponed the wedding as far as she can, but in the meantime, she can’t ignore the secrets of the court and the hurting of more Herrani people.

The reason this is just short of perfection for me, just like The Winner’s Curse, is because these characters wouldn’t rip out and step on my still-beating heart if they just shared one freaking sentence to explain what the hell is going on. Their communication issues frustrated me to no end, and I know they each have their reasons, but they (Kestrel especially) regrets not telling their “secret” immediately after withholding the information.

Also, that game of Bite and Sting, where I finally started to feel all my anxiety slip away, and then Arin asks the wrong question. My soul literally can’t live like this, Marie Rutkosk, you’re breaking me.

These books are beautiful, the story-line is unique, the prose is poetic, and the messages they hold are beyond words. I understand this is historical fiction, but we could use a lot more books with messages like this in 2016. Especially with the United States’ current political problems.

These are really solid books that really stand up to anything out there right now. I can’t wait to start The Winner’s Kiss, I just hope my heart can take it.

“His dear face, dear to her, dearer still. How could she love his face more for its damage? What kind of person saw someone’s suffering and felt her heart crack open even wider, even more sweetly than before? There was something wrong with her. It was wrong to want to touch a scar and call it beautiful.”

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