All if fair in love, war, and the final book in a series.
The Winner’s Kiss concludes the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. The Winner’s Kiss is a complicated book with many twists and turns. Without giving too many spoilers, The Winner’s Kiss follows Arin who decides he is over Kestrel and focuses his attention to the war. Meanwhile, Kestrel pays for her traitorous crime in a Valorian work camp.
Last year, I read The Winner’s Curse in this series and absolutely loved it. Earlier this year, I picked up The Winner’s Crime and was equally impressed. Going into The Winner’s Kiss, I was afraid that I set my expectations too high for the final book. Even though I had a minor problem with The Winner’s Kiss, overall it delivered an exciting and satisfying ending to the series.
I’m not sure if I didn’t notice it in the first two books in the series, but I loved Marie Rutkoski’s writing style. Everything flowed so nicely. Furthermore, Kestrel and Arin’s section each reflected their personalities perfectly. Additionally, the author’s writing style allows for great world-building. The culture, attitudes, and histories of each land are highlighted so well that they actually seem real.
One of the best aspects of this book would be the battle scenes. The author must have really researched military strategy and weaponry because every battle was well thought-out and realistic. Although not a battle, my favorite strategy scene is a Bite and Sting game between the emperor and Kestrel. Not only did the scene capture both of their personalities, but it kept me on the edge of my seat!
Another aspect done well in The Winner’s Kiss are the relationships. Throughout the series, I appreciated that Rutkoski strayed away from the typical love triangle. In all three books, readers see how Kestrel and Arin’s relationships grows based on the changes they undergo in all three books. I also liked seeing Kestrel wrestle with feelings towards her father. Their ending may not be perfect, but it is extremely realistic and true to their characters. I also enjoyed seeing some of the more platonic relationships, such as Arin and Roshar. Each relationship was well developed and directly affected the plot.
There was only one problem that I had with The Winner’s Kiss. Out of every plot twist, memory loss is my least favorite. When I watched Cinderella III, which uses a similar plot twist, I almost turned off the movie. Personally, I dislike how a memory loss story line almost ruins the original story by taking away the experiences of one or more characters. While the author does make Kestrel face the past, I didn’t really think this part of the story was necessary. It only dragged out the beginning of the novel.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Winner’s Kiss. I will really miss reading about Kestrel and Arin! I rate The Winner’s Kiss as four out of five stars.