On the counts of an action-packed plot, well-developed characters, and a fantastic sequel, The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski is guilty as charged.
The Winner’s Crime picks up after Kestrel’s engagement to the Valorian emperor’s son. With the wedding fast approaching, Kestrel feels extremely trapped as she must attend numerous parties and keep the favor of the emperor. Meanwhile, Arin struggles as the governor of the newly free Herran and with his feelings for Kestrel.
Similar to the first book, I really appreciate how Kestrel and Arin grow throughout the book. Both must make tough decisions and all of their actions really align with their personalities. Also, like with the first book, I appreciate how Kestrel and Arin’s relationship faces real challenges that greatly impact their relationship. They struggle through each challenge and nothing ever is solved easily simply because “they love each other so much.”
I also really enjoyed the pacing within this book and thought it was better paced than the first book in the series. In The Winner’s Curse, all of the action took place in the first half and went slowly downhill in the second half. Even though I still liked it, the second half felt like more of the beginning to the sequel. In The Winner’s Crime, however, the action was more evenly dispersed.
Even though I loved The Winner’s Crime, there were a few things that threw me off. A lot of the characters from the first book faded away or were removed all together. I appreciate that their story lines were resolved, but they did little to influence the plot. Then, the author threw in a lot of new characters, which like the old ones, often fell into a certain stereotype without much depth. I know Arin’s trip to the East will be more important in the final book, but I wanted a little more of it within this book.
Although I had some problems with this book, I still really enjoyed it. The first book in the series, The Winner’s Curse, was one of my favorite books of 2016. I was definitely not disappointed with The Winner’s Crime–once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down! I give The Winner’s Crime five out of five stars.