Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Winner's Trilogy #2

The Winner's Crime

Rate this book
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.

416 pages, ebook

First published March 3, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Marie Rutkoski

31 books8,154 followers
Marie Rutkoski is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for children and young adults, including THE HOLLOW HEART (September 14, 2021). Her debut for adults, REAL EASY (January 18, 2022), is a psychological thriller.

Born in Illinois, Marie holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Harvard University. She is currently a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn with her family.


(photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan)

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
23,983 (37%)
4 stars
25,511 (40%)
3 stars
10,546 (16%)
2 stars
2,261 (3%)
1 star
927 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,040 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
April 15, 2015
Marie Rutkoski has upped her game.

I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved once again that most writers of YA fantasy focus on the flirtations and romancing and forget about pretty much everything else. However, the way that book ended had me curious about the potential new directions of book two...

I was right to be curious. I was right to take my chances on the sequel.

This book just has everything. I would liken it to what Maas did when she took us from the romantic, fantasy-lite Throne of Glass to the clever, action-packed Crown of Midnight. Rutkoski gets vicious in this book. Kestrel must make the hardest of decisions, sacrifice people for the "greater good", and outwit the emperor and his armies. There are no such things as friends and allies in Kestrel's world anymore; the only person she can rely on is herself.

It's amazing how much more I liked the relationship between Kestrel and Arin when it was slipped into the background behind all the treason, revenge and backstabbing going on. The moments when they did meet had more love/hate tension and I found myself angsting over what would happen between them. Because this second book is very clearly not a romance and I felt the complete lack of guarantee in a happy ending on every single page.

The Winner's Crime is much more tightly-plotted and full of genuine surprises than the first book. I could hardly look away as it zipped along at a wonderful pace, twisting one way and then another. I like how Kestrel is a complex heroine and not wholly good; she's allowed to be selfish and make choices we don't necessarily agree with.

I also feel like we got a better sense of Kestrel's intelligence and ability in this book. Now she has bigger concerns than her romance with Arin and high society life, we get to see her plotting, being damn sneaky, and outwitting the emperor. It gave me a new kind of respect for her and I can't wait to see where her story goes.

One thing I like a lot about these books is the way each ending has promised a very different kind of story. I only picked up this book because the ending of the last seemed to suggest an entirely new setting and array of problems... and the end of this one does the same. I can already see that the third book will bring something very different.

I'm excited to see what that is.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,571 reviews33.9k followers
February 12, 2015
Make your own book-inspired tattoos! Here's my tutorial + free download featuring quotes from this trilogy:

twc tattoo truth


4.5 stars Marie Rutkoski is cruel to our little falcon, my friends. This book is filled with anger, betrayal, sacrifice, and yearning--not to mention secret messages, delicious cat-and-mouse dialogue, and despairing subtext. If you love impossible romances set against the backdrop of war, give this series a try--though be forewarned that the ending is TORTURE. Pure torture.

Full review is on the blog.

Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.8k followers
March 31, 2016
“I’m going to miss you when I wake up,” she whispered, because she realized that she must have fallen asleep under the sun. Arin was too real for her imagination. He was a dream.
“Don’t wake up,” he said.

I'm standing next to my window,allowing the near summer breeze to caress my face while I try to pull myself together,to ignore the feeling that I was stabbed in the heart by dozens sharp daggers.For your information Marie Rutkoski,the daggers would have hurt less.

“I don’t mind being a moth.I would probably start eating silk if it meant that I could fly.”

But Kestrel couldn't fly.She was trapped in a life full of balls,gowns,gossip,deception,threats and loneliness,a life she chose and accepted if it meant that Arin would be safe.But was he?Both Arin and Kestrel fought really hard to save Herran,each of them in their own way,while a vicious and greedy emperor whose only love seemed to be power tried to undo their efforts.And themselves.Every attempt Arin made to understand why Kestrel sold herself this way was fruitless because Kestrel denied him the truth for his own protection.Caught in a web of lies and betrayals and mistakes that piled up,they had to figure out whether they could trust each other,and the cost of such trust.
“Arin hadn’t fallen asleep on the deck of his strangely still ship, yet, it felt as if he’d been dreaming. As if dreams and memories and lies were the same thing.”

The Winner's Crime was an excellent sequel to The Winner's Curse.Brutal and tearjerking,but excellent,although there weren't many scenes between Arin and Kestrel.Marie Rutkoski's writing is so rich,filled with so many unspoken yet powerful emotions.She presented her heroes' choices and dilemmas with such clarity that I thought it was me the one who eventually had to take matters in my own hands.I suffered with Arin's ignorance of what Kestrel had sacrificed for him and his struggle to understand,the trials he had to go through,the humiliation and the physical pain,and above all his excruciating love for Kestrel.His anger and hatred were just the surface,under which lied the undying love that even urged him to choose her over his own country.I understand why Kestrel wanted to keep him in the darkness,it was the only way to prevent him from doing something that would put in danger his life and his nation,but there were times I wanted to scream,to make her tell him how much he meant to her.
“Kestrel saw all of her mistakes,strung in such a crowded,ugly line that it was difficult to tell which one had come first.”

I can't stand the thought of Arin giving up on her,it's so overwhelming and painful.I loathed the emperor for what he did to her and Verex,who turned out to be such a sweet and gallant prince.And I hated her father.After all,Kestrel made the wrong choice.She gambled and she lost.
“Sometimes you think you want something,when in reality you need to let it go.”

The tension and the longing during the entire book crawled beneath my skin,but after that ending I feel numb,unable to think of anything else.I got a lump in my throat and I try really hard to hold back my tears,but I think I will fail soon.

Yeah,I failed.
Profile Image for Sophia.
270 reviews2,035 followers
March 15, 2020
march 3, 2015
~4:45 p.m. - i went to the bookstore to pick up the book i've been waiting for forever.
~4:50 p.m. - customer service man went to go dig around in the back to find a copy since THEY RUDELY WEREN'T ON ANY SHELF.
~4:56 p.m. - in this glorious minute, i finally held the winner's crime in my hands.
[insert irrelevant things like math homework and eating dinner but also insert relevant thing like reading]
~1:32 a.m. - finished the winner's crime.
~1:40 a.m. - found dead in bedroom.
~1:45 a.m. - specialists concluded that the cause of death was the book in hand and the fact that the CHARACTERS WOULDN'T JUST COMMUNICATE ALREADY OH MY FREAKING JESUS LORD.

okay but forreals let's talk about this evil, evil, evil book

first off: i don't think it was as good as the winner's curse, and i know i'm in the minority by saying that.
BUT HOLD ON let me explain--this book wasn't bad. it was just fine, pretty excellent really. but i thought the first book was perfection and you can't improve upon perfection.

this book was definitely not what i was expecting. nothing that i thought was going to happen happened.

kestrel, you are the most interesting blend of erudite and abnegation i have ever seen. you make me want to slap you, but only because your choices make my heart hurt and my blood simmer. if i were in your position, i think i might do the same thing, but then again, maybe i'd be too selfish.

arin, you stupid, stupid fool. your impatience, your blindness, your EVERYTHING is so frustrating. i want to smack you for not being able to SEE properly.

the tension in this book is subtler than in the first book. the first book is very dramatic, almost extravagantly so. the tension in this book is laid in thin layers until it builds to a crushing weight.

the writing is gorgeous as usual. i don't think the prose was as tight (?? pithy???) as in the first novel, but i still liked it.

the ending sucked. just like the ending of the winner's curse sucked. and i don't mean suck like, "wow, that was just trash." i mean suck like, "where's the nearest cliff because i need to throw myself off of it." marie rutkoski is really good at making you feel like your beloved characters are never going to be able to get a happy ending. rutkoski excels at making you feel nervous for her characters. you'll feel her ostensibly kind hands twist your guts and set your blood on fire. haven't the characters been through enough? is there no mercy in this godforsaken fantasy world?

just thinking about this book makes me cry. (i wish i was exaggerating. i'm not. i'm crying as a i write this. don't make fun. i'm very, very sad.)

that's all i have to say for now. wake me up when book 3 comes out.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.3k followers
December 10, 2019
i obsessed over ‘the winners curse’ and this sequel definitely had the potential to also be a 5 star read had it not been the most spectacularly frustrating display of miscommunication i have ever read. good grief, this had me banging my head against a wall.

i understand that characters keep secrets from each other, especially during conflict and when they are opposite sides of the fight. i get it. but that doesnt mean that its not frustrating to see how everything unravels because of it. theres only so much disappointment a reader can take. i get the need for opposition in a story, but when the entire book is nothing but opposition, it makes it difficult to enjoy.

that being said, this story is still really good. im just praying to the book gods that something positive happens in the next book, because i really dont think my heart can take much more of this.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Dorreh.
63 reviews198 followers
November 30, 2016
So I reread this book, solely for the purpose of the new copy I got 2 days ago!

I'm a little shocked quite frankly that my rating didn't change after reading this book a second time.

Somewhere along the lines of good and evil, there is a thin band of nothing, I'd like to think of it as betrayal. And I think that was the ultimate theme exploited in this book. Wether it's a true kind of betrayal, one justified by the greater good or one simply because of ones own shortcomings in morality. The book picked off where the winners curse had ended and quite frankly it ended with a bang. Needless to say I hadn't seen that coming.

I loved the way the story got a chance to rebuild itself, around a whole new setting and plot. I had a weakness for Arin since the begging but his jumping to imminent conclusions rubbed me the wrong way. It was immensely frustrating. I always loved Krestel, she was a rare gem in the YA female protagonists. Strategic, clever, and incredibly independent. That last bit was the most important really, a character who, unlike most, didn't need to pine over and waddle in self pity for a boy. She was herself, and didn't change for the sake of others approval. I'd like to applaud that! All the characters portrayed were meticulous and either lovable or abhorrent. I'd like to think of that as something only a very talented author can manage.

Overall I reread this book when I got a new copy, I left the older one on the plane last year, and didn't have the chance to get it back. Even though I lost my original review, I retread this book in hopes of dealing with the winners kiss better. I recommend this series to anyone who likes well written, fast paced plots, with great characters. (Even the ones who deserve to have their eyes plucked out).
Profile Image for Warda.
1,152 reviews18.3k followers
July 18, 2019
Reread #4


Reread x3. What a beauty of a book.


[Actual rating: 4.5]
Ugh, the feels! So good!! So much better than the first. The scope of this book got bigger and better. This story had so much more depth to it and was so well written. The plot was tighter, the political elements and its dirty game were stronger, it was darker, more gruesome. The first book is almost tame in comparison. Or is, actually. The characters were more developed and had a lot more layers and intricacy to them.

I did not want to put this book down.

I absolutely adored Kestrel in this book. We got to see her be more cunning. She's wise. Strong-headed. Intelligent. Opinionated. Selfless and has a mind of her own. I love the way we saw her reason behind things, and how she came to a conclusion.

Arin, my love! I don’t know what to say other than how much I adore the guy. His loyalty made his character what it is.

Loved reading it for the second time round. Jumping right into the third book.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,614 followers
February 13, 2017
Well, damn. And sigh . . . . .


I didn't like this book as much as I hoped. Never fear, I still liked it but . . . . .


So Arin FINALLY shows up at about 70? pages in and it wasn't the reunion I was hoping for. I know that Kestrel is trying to make sure nothing happens to Arin because if she tells him she's doing it all for him then he will go off and be a twat and ruin everything. But, it's still no fun.

And I was getting sick of hearing about this Risha girl, who gives a rats arse about her! Get over it!

Kestrel made the deal with the emperor to marry his son, Verex in order to save the Herranians. She did that at the end of the first book. Now here she is living with them and trying to keep the wedding put off. Verex is a nice guy and isn't too enthused about the wedding either. Not that they don't like each other as people, they just know that the emperor twat is using them both.

I did read a spoiler for the third book about the emperor that made me happy =) I will be glad to read about that.

Anyhoo, then we have Jess visiting Kestrel but she gets her panties in a wad when she finds out Arin was there and she knew Kestrel was still in love with him. Crap, I forgot to write down the page for the excerpt I was going to use! The whole thing is that Arin and his people poisoned and killed a lot of the Valorians but Arin gave Kestrel something to give Jess to help her live. But Jess was going on and on about how could you love him or blah blah. He took our homes and killed our people. Kestrel was like, they weren't our homes. See the Valorians attacked the Herranians first because they were jealous and wanted every thing they had. I mean they were trading with each other and had a good thing going I thought, but you know, greed and stuff. So how could Jess sit there and blame any of these people when SHE and all of the other people were living in the homes they had stolen and murdered families. Okay, not Jess exactly but still. They made them into slaves. I think Arin was a slave for like 10 years. My arse Jess, I don't like you any more for your stupidity.

Moving on.

Kestrel was playing some tricky games with people trying to work out something to make sure everyone was happy. But................................................................................. does anything ever really work. I want to smack everyone.

Someone better get their act together in the last book before I climb in the book with a flame thrower and set everyone straight!

I probably left something out but my brain can't think. Oh and Kestrel's father - wth? And the baby tiger =) Fin!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
June 10, 2016
4.5 Stars! While I didn't enjoy the sequel as much as book one, I did really like this book! What's funny is with The Winner's Curse, I was OBSESSED with the first half but my excitement faltered through the ending. With The Winner's Crime, I was somewhat bothered by the first half whether that be from slight boredom to outright frustration with characters, I was totally INTOXICATED by the second half! I'm so so happy I finally got around to picking up this series, and I'm really excited to see what the conclusion has in store for this world!
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.1k followers
May 11, 2017



This is The Winner’s Curse:

And THIS is The Winner’s Crime:

In short, THIS BOOK ROCKS. Arin is sort of just angsty all the time, which is eh, but Kestrel is a TOTAL BADASS. She just made it onto my all-time-favorite female characters list.

This book is yet another YA attempt at striking the balance between general badassery and romance, but this is the best take I’ve ever seen. Kestrel makes all decisions with her loved ones at heart, but she doesn’t let love or emotion hold her back. She’s tormented over any pain she has to cause to anyone, but she’ll do what she has to to become empress so she can have monopoly over decision-making. Basically, she’s terrific and I love her.

I am very into politics as well, so when I see a YA book that has anything to do with politics, I’m like, count me in! So it was disappointing when the first book in the series was mostly lovey-dovey gross stuff and not the inner workings of a high-fantasy government. But I figured, hey, it was well written and took like two hours to read, so why not the sequel?

And let me tell you, it would not have taken me almost 6 months to pick this one up if I had known how political it was. This put love to the side and talked government, baby. Okay, no, it didn’t put love to the side, but it wasn’t on every page. Okay, yes, it was pretty much on every page, but the two characters spent most of the book apart so it wasn’t AS intolerable.

I’m scared I won’t like the next book as much, but I lowkey want to read it right now. Too bad I don’t have a copy yet.

Bottom line: work through the first book so you can read the hell out of this one. HIGHLY recommend! Best YA I’ve read in a hot second.
Profile Image for Maureen.
507 reviews4,201 followers
August 23, 2015
For me this definitely wasn't as good as the first, but was still pretty fantastic.
It was really great to see the further development of Arin and Kestrel and to see their interactions with other people but their interactions with EACH OTHER WERE SO STRESSFUL ALWAYS.
The world building wasn't as solid as the first book - I couldn't really imagine any of the places the action took place.
If my babes don't end up happy in some way or another in the third book I'm gonna be so mad. I'm all for tragedy as long as there is a happy ending and it's not just tragedy for tragedy sake.
Profile Image for Alicia Batista (Addicted Readers).
256 reviews505 followers
March 8, 2015





MY LOVE RAN SO DEEP.... I.... I....
















~~~~~~EDITED REVIEW~~~~~~

4.5 Stars

A stunning and absolutely dazzling world of forbidden romance, broken countries, shattered lives, and determined and unforgettable characters, with sizzling plot twist that will have you in dire need of book three. THE WINNER'S CRIME was breathtaking and heartbreakingly wonderful!!

Beautifully, and elegantly written, THE WINNER'S CRIME enchanted me from the very beginning until the last sentence. I was dazzled by the smooth and fresh writing that flowed with ease and entranced me into a cocoon of pure bliss. In book one I swept away by the unforgettable and truly unique writing that hypnotized me and kept my heart racing until the end. And in this sequel, THE WINNER'S CRIME was no exception to the full lengths of Marie Rutkoski's brilliant writing skills. She has this spellbinding way with words and world making, and character chemistry that is beyond exceptional. She's a mastermind of a storyteller that everyone should have the honor to read!!

The romance in this book was what I had an issue with. I LOVE Kestrel and Arin. I mean, I am head over heels in love with them as a couple. I think their perfect for each other in just about every way, and bring the best out in each other, and have this electrifying chemistry that sends shock waves through me with each sentence their together.

BUT... in THE WINNER'S CRIME there is like ZERO ROMANCE!! YES, you heard that right, ZERO ROMANCE!! Well, no I'm lying, there is these really small little scene where their is some type of love between them. But it was forced and shielded by they're new places in their new life, and they were prudent in keeping their distances, even if it hurt them like hell. And it was heartbreaking to say the least, watching such pain and sorrow as they endured the heartache and loss of love! I just REALLY wanted more from their relationship. Even understanding the reasoning of why Marie Rutkoski had them at each others throat whenever they came within 5 feet of each other, but it was still heartbreaking to watch. It was literally tearing my heart and soul out just to read their harsh encounters. And that made me not enjoy this book as much as book one for that reason and that reason alone. I wanted, NO, NEED, more of Kestrel and Arin time, and if we don't get it in book three, oh well I may just have a to take this trilogy and stomp them into the ground with steel toed boats a million times just to feel better! ;)

But honestly, besides the relationship issue, I LOVED everything else. The plot was terrifyingly wonderful, and the betrayals were beyond shocking, and totally gut-wrenching to watch unfold. The world in court life was like any other political intrigue novel—lies and deception, betrayals and defiance, plotting and scheming, eager courtiers and snobby nobility, all tied up in blood and murder, and evil emperors wanting nothing more but to conquer all and destroy all who oppose him. But this book was so much fun and a huge change from THE WINNER'S CURSE book setting. And I have a feeling that book three is going to be a totally different book setting then either book one or two. And I am SOOOOOOO looking forward to relishing in the explosive finale that will either shatter the Valorians rule, or the Herrani submission, or, just maybe, maybe shatter both worlds and be something totally unpredictable!! I wouldn't put it past Rutkoski to come up with something so shocking an totally unexpected. BRING IT!!!



Engaged to the crown prince of Valoria, Kestrel should be relishing in the most desired man of all their empire, but she's not. Marrying the crown prince is actually the last thing she desires. With her heart belonging to another, but her fate promised to the Valoria empire, she has excepted her future and the sacrifice it's made for the greater good, even if it still hurts like hell...

Forced into marriage with the prince as a bargaining chip for freeing Herran from the vicious rule the emperor had on the Herrani slaves, Kestrel has finally freed them from his iron grip and malicious way of living. But payed the ultimate price with her hand in marriage. But what really weighs on her is not the loss of her hand in marriage, but her loss of her heart that is owned by Arin, the slave she bought from the slave auction so many months ago. Falling in love with him really was the winner's curse...

Now living in the imperial palace as the future Queen to the Valorian Empire, Kestrel must play the hand she dealt herself before more questions threaten to arise and shatter her already fragile world. But as also the imperial ambassador to the now independent territory of Herran, and having to work with the new territory and governor that she traded her life for, she's starting to believe she may be in way over her head.

Kestrel will have to decide just where and who her true loyalties lie, and if she's willing to lay it all on the line for the Herrani people she's already saved once. Or if she's willing to let them all crash and burn under the emperor's cruel wrath...


Now the Governor to the independent territory of Herran, Arin has his work cut out for him. As a former slave to the war Generals daughter Kestrel, and the blacksmith at their estate, he and the former leader of the Herrani rebellion have taken their home territory of Herran back by force. But keeping it was the challenge, and Arin realized they were fighting a war they couldn't win. So when the imperial emperor offered Herrani their freedom as a self-governed territory with Arin as their governor, it all seem to good to be true. But of course, with no other options he agreed, and unknowingly sealed with it his beloveds fate as the future queen to the imperial empire, and lost her forever....

With the weight of the whole territory of Herran on his shoulders, and little resource or accesses to the means in keeping his new territory fed, Arin is coming to the horrifying realization of just why the emperor offered his gracious deal when he did. And unless he finds a way to feed his people and quick, they will all fall to illness and starvation, and the emperor will eliminate the whole Herrani race without even going to war. And that is something Arin cannot allow without going down fighting...

But if the emperor thinks that they'll just roll over and give up, then he has another thing coming. Arin is determined to build he's territory to it's fullest and forge alliances with the neighboring city of Dacran, in hopes of building an army strong enough to withstand the Valorian army's wrath, and finally end the Valorian rule over the Herrani people once and for all. But in Arin's world, nothing is that simple, and he will have to fight to the death if is going to survive this battle. And his love/hate relationship with Kestrel may just be his ultimate downfall...

THE WINNER'S CRIME was beautifully crafted and enchantingly wonderful!! With it's fine touch of exquisite imperial life, and it's captivating characters that would invade anyone's heart, to it's addicting plot twist and heart-pounding revelations, THE WINNER'S CRIME is a sequel NOT TO BE MISSED!!!

Overall, if your looking for heart-pounding romance like THE WINNER'S CURSE, you won't find it here. But if you want a thrilling plot, with unforgettable events, and ultimate betrayals, with shattered hearts, and races on the brink of extinction, then THE WINNER'S CRIME will definitely satisfy and some...

NOTE: I received a physical ARC from Macmillan for reviewing purposes! All opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way!
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,891 followers
August 19, 2016
If you’re new to this series… you better THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS that all three books are out. Because this? This book. WORST. CLIFFHANGER. EVER.

Let me tell you a little story about when I first read this book.

Poor Brittney was sick and stuck in her bed for several days last winter. She was all out of books except the first and second book of this series already purchased and waiting. So she started this series. Loved the first book. Was literally flying in the second book because holy batman THE AGNST. Then, the worse cliffhanger known to man happened. Fine fine, she thought, because the third book is only a purchase away. WRONG. Come to find out it was 3 months away from even being released.

GUYS. It was the worst. It was like being punched in the face.


More like someone was able to wield the power of Thor's hammer and direct it right at my face. Like, I had to lay down just to process and try and recover.

Moving on…

This. Plot.

Obviously from the description/end of the last book, you can decipher that Kestrel has basically given herself to the Emperor and his son because of the nice little bargain she made to save Arin’s life. And sure, he’d probably riot and come get her IF ONLY HE KNEW. Of course, she made him believe that she wants this and doesn’t want him. And we all know how stubborn Kestrel is.

My question is... are you prepared for this? (stop here if you would rather not know the general direction of the plot…)

Are you ready for non stop torture about Arin trying to figure out what in the heck Kestrel got herself into and Kestrel doing everything in her power to make sure he doesn’t find out? Are you ready for hurt feelings and a sense of longing for characters to just communicate? While everyone’s life is on the line? And just general torture?

Just be prepared for feels. I can't even.

Also, I've never wanted to murder a certain character more in my life.

Conclusion? I freaking love this series but it was non stop agony. Yes, I recommend. Yes, I want to watch you all SUFFER.

That is all I have to say right now.

My Blog ~ Instagram
Profile Image for Ninoska Goris.
261 reviews157 followers
August 17, 2018
Español - English

Hacía mucho tiempo que no lograba descifrar un libro. Ninguno de mis posibles finales sucedió, en cambio quedó de una forma inimaginable.

Esto es lo que más me gustó de este libro, tiene un escenario totalmente diferente al primero, y estoy segura será diferente del tercero.

Tenemos a una Kestrel con una vida y preocupaciones totalmente diferente a cuando vivía en Herran. Es más humana, menos trivial, un tipo de heroina con resultados no siempre satisfactorios.

Trata de evitar muertes innecesarias en la guerra, ser espía de los herranies en la corte, no defraudar al emperador, que no se le note lo mucho que sufre por su situación con Jess, tratar de parecer entusiasmada con su boda, al mismo tiempo que trata de poner a un lado su corazón y su amor por Arin.


Since a long time I didn't have the problem to decipher a book. None of my possible endings happened, instead it ended with an unimaginable way.

This is what I liked the most about this book, it has a totally different scenario than the first, and I'm sure it will be different from the third one.

We have a Kestrel with a life and concerns totally different from when She lived in Herran. She is more human, less trivial, a type of heroine with not always satisfactory results.

She tries to avoid unnecessary deaths in war, to be a spy for the Herranies in court, not to defraud the emperor, not to let people notice how much she suffers with her situation with Jess, to try to appear enthusiastic about her marriage, at the same time as try to put aside her heart and love for Arin.
757 reviews2,345 followers
July 7, 2017
4.5 stars.



i swear rtc once im done dying

bless my library for having this on their shelves when i went to check because lord that ending is killing me.
June 25, 2020

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

THE WINNER'S CURSE was a great book, with a great plot, and great characters. It was a non-stop thrill-ride of political intrigue, doomed love, and international espionage, all written with far more finesse and flair than you normally find in a YA fantasy novel. Costume fantasy seems to be the new fad in that department, where the "fantasy" aspect of a book serves no purpose other than to be a pretty backdrop for a romance (I am calling you out, COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES).

On the other hand, if ever there was a book that suffered from "second book syndrome" it is THE WINNER'S CRIME. After helping to grant the Herrani their independence, Kestrel is now a caged bird in the Valorian court, engaged to the son of and under the thumb of the vindictive emperor whose vengeance is slow but always cuts straight to the heart, and who sees nothing wrong with torture or harming the loved ones of those who he wishes ill.

The Herrani's independence, meanwhile, is under threat, as are the eastern plains of Dorcan. Arin, the governor of Herran, has his hands full trying to manage his people while also meeting the impossible demands of the Valorians. Despite all this, he also still can't forget his feelings for Kestrel, which fall somewhere on the continuum between love and hate since they're always coming in conflict.

The court intrigue I loved in the first book is still here, which is why this book gets such a high rating. Rutkoski is excellent at drawing out suspense, and creating effortlessly complex political drama that feels realistic (and probably mirrors actual historical events - I'm sure her home bookshelf is crammed with historical nonfiction). What annoyed me the most about THE WINNER'S CRIME is the complete 180 in personality both these main characters undergo. Arin starts doubting everything Kestrel every did for him, ever, and seems to conveniently forget any sort of fondness he had for her, while Kestrel becomes a complete victim and drags her feet about while whining about no one likes her. And nobody does like her in this book: an alternate title for WINNER'S CRIME could just as easily be "Everybody Hates Kestrel." I got really, really tired of all the wangst.

All qualms aside, though, The Winner's trilogy is a good series (so far, anyway). It's darker than most YA geared towards women dares to be, and is smart and surprisingly fierce. Speaking as someone who is a little burned out on "girls wearing pretty dresses engage in a forbidden fantasy affair"-type novels, WINNER'S was a welcome reprieve.  If you're a fan of POISON STUDY by Maria V. Snyder, or THE BONE SEASON by Samantha Shannon, you'll probably enjoy THE WINNER'S CURSE.

3.5 to 4 stars
Profile Image for Bekah.
745 reviews977 followers
April 6, 2023
Oh the FEELS!!! Wow. Just. Wow. If you have read book one which is The Winner's Curse then you need to stop reading this, right now, pick up book one and read these 2 books. They are a MUST OWN, A MUST READ. You want a book that has everything? then look no further because this is it. AND THEY ARE CLEAN! There is romance to swoon for, adventure, political intrigue, lies, truths, heart breaks (reader and character), an amazing cast of characters that you just want to kill of and root for!

The story carries on with the engagement of Lady Kestrel to the Valoria's crown prince who you aren't sure if you want to like or just hate. The engagement itself is a problem yet to save those she loves Kestrel cannot tell anyone of the reason behind her engagement for fear of too many people's lives. Yes Kestrel thinks she can play a serious game between life or death for her and those she's trying to protect. When things spin out of control, Kestrel finds herself utterly alone. This book gets zoo utterly twisted you can't put it down!

I LOVE Kestrel's character even though you want to yell at her, you also cheer her own, ache with her, and hope she knows what she is doing. While surrounded by the gorgeous beauty of a palace and the balls and gowns, Kestrel has to constantly wear different facades in order to protect the ones she loves and herself, yet for how long is she able to uphold it all up and still try to save a people other deem not worth saving?

Arin...Arin, Arin. You....kinda bothered me in this book. You seemed a little whinny and I wanted to slap you across the head at times, yet I understand what you were trying to do. You just FEEL for Arin throughout this whole book. UGH! Why must life be so complicated!

New characters come into play and it's mesmerizing to see how they all play in the game that Marie Rutkoski sets up and how you aren't sure if some of them are good or bad.

This book is different from book one with all the political intrigue that has your mind spinning.

Overall I loved it and I couldn't put it down, it tugged on my heartstrings and is a must own.

Sexual Content: mild
Violence: mild
Drugs/Alcohol: mild/none
Language: mild/none
Profile Image for April.
146 reviews258 followers
February 5, 2018
This series just gets better and better.
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
592 reviews3,540 followers
September 25, 2015
"Arin and I are impossible," [Kestrel] said quietly. "Dangerous. It is best that we keep our distance from each other."

Trusted bloggers and reviewers told me and told me I'd love The Winner's Crime. "The stakes are so high," they raved. "It's miles better than its predecessor!", Your heart will be ripped into little-bity shreds!"

The stakes are high, alright, though not in the way you'd think.

Stakes: will Kestrel and Arin stop wallowing in self-inflicted angst long enough to have an honest conversation?

You see, last book, Kestrel agreed to marry the prince in exchange for Herran's freedom. Arin thinks she's betrayed him by giving herself to the royal family which enslaved his country and are continuing to enslave others. Kestrel won't tell him the truth because of half-baked reasons, like "for his own good".

I waited for the big reveal at 25%. I waited for it some more at 50%. Slowly lost hope at 75%. Said the work 'fuck' when I reached the end.

Their pot of angst is burnt and inedible, ladies and gentleman. Champion had a similar series of misunderstandings and secrets. Day and June worked it out before the 70-page mark and made out before storming fronts and kicking ass. Angst is like bullshit; it is only tolerable in small quantities.

Arin and Kestrel haven't an ounce of common sense between them. Arin has always been stubborn to the point of stupidity in The Winner's Curse. Who can forget his refusal to sing during the slave market, possibly endangering his spy mission? Here, he openly proclaims his love for Kestrel despite knowing she's engaged and they could both be beheaded for crimes against the royal family.

"He wondered when he would stop sharing things he shouldn't. It was a bad habit."

It's nice to know some things don't change.

Kestrel is equally as dumb. Knowing full well the emperor's hard stance and rumors involving her and a certain ex-slave, she walks around, blabbing her sympathies towards the Herrani to loyalists and wearing her heart on her silky sleeve.

"Elinor frowned. 'Herran is a colony. This is your home.'

was a colony. Now it's an independent territory.'

'By the grace of our emperor.'"

You. Are. A. Strategist. Act like one.

I didn't start getting invested until 60%. Kestrel and Arin are apart, so unable to make moony-eyes at the other and thinking woe-is-me thoughts, they actually get stuff done. Marie foreshadows beautifully and seeing it all come together almost made up for the plodding first half.

Arin-Kestrel shippers, be warned that an absolutely devastating event happens to them near the end. Even me who doesn't give a flying fuck about felt a mild twinge of pain for the poor things.

The writing is—there's no polite way to say this—painfully awkward. It reads like it was hauled straight from the burner the second it was finished, no edits needed, and express-mailed to her publisher. The handful of great passages are overshadowed by an excess of sentences beginning with pronouns and character names, so it was either "He did this", "She did that" or "There was something-something". Just because it's an ARC doesn't mean I should put up with lazy first-draft writing.

The Winner's Curse also seems to be in love with great, sweeping cinematic effects when its characters are in the throes of despair and confusion. Twice, it rains when Arin is talking about Important Things and stops just as he's about to reach an Important Conclusion.

Instant sadness. Writers shouldn't need to rely on cheap gimmicks to demonstrate atmosphere. Big-screens have no choice because script-writers and directors can't rely on narration and hidden emotions to do it. An actor can only do so much with his/her body.

Fairly disappointed overall.

Quotes taken from an uncorrected galley proof and may be subject to change. ARC provided by Netgalley.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
437 reviews707 followers
June 30, 2016
“I wanted to trust you,” he whispered. “I tried. But I couldn’t lie to myself hard enough.”

I was too absorbed in the story to mark anything in this book so I apologize for the lack of quotes in the following review. :P

The Winner's Crime is another fast-paced story with heart-wrenching twists of plot in the trilogy. All I remember is an abundance of political and military strategies among the soldiers and the main characters. Even though there are tons of unpredictable events in this book, which I absolutely adore, I have to admit that this is my least favorite book among the series.

The reason I don't give it a well deserved 5/5 stars partly because this installment (and the way this story develops) makes the entire plot way too political and partly because I don't really like hearing Kestrel lie anymore. Particularly to Arin and all the people she cares for and vise versa.

Let's start with the "too political" part. As much as I'm impressed by the idea of "The Winner's Curse" in the first book, I'm aware that this will involve a bit political issues and means. In the beginning, the entire structure of the story isn't obvious enough to see how it'll work out later so I don't feel bothered then. However, I can see the direction more clearly in the sequel and all of Kestrel's political suggestions/lies are formed; the more apparent those characters are on the same page, the stronger the pursuit of power is. Frankly speaking, I dislike politics. So as the story contains too many political issues, I get tired and irksome easily.

Another disappointment about this book is the fact that Kestrel tells too many lies. I know she's an excellent liar from book one, but she just takes the substance of liar to a whole new level. She lies in the court, lies to her friends, lies to Prince Verex, lies to Arin, lies about the Moth, lies to her father, the emperor, the maids...basically she just lies to everyone in her life. She manipulates them like they're a piece of tile in her faovrite Bite and Sting game. There's few truth weaved through many, many layers of white lies. So it's annoying for me to see those who care so much about her are pathetically fooled.
“This voice you’ve been using, that bright one… do you think I don’t recognize it? It’s the sound of you laying a trap. Of you hiding behind your own words. And I know that the way you’ve been talking is not you. Say what you want about me, about what happened between us, about the shape of the sun and the color of the grass and any other truths in this world you want to deny. Deny everything until the gods strike you down. But you can’t say that I don’t know you.”

Overall, despite the above shortcomings, I still have a great time reading this sequel and the next one, The Winner's Kiss, is what I've been looking for all the time. Hence, I highly recommend The Winner's Trilogy to everyone of you. :)
Profile Image for Ishmeen.
380 reviews153 followers
June 19, 2018
Still like the first book more but there’s so. much. pain. in this one, can somebody heal my broken heart? 😭💔 I have never come across a romance this complicated far out I need a damn good conclusion and the third book now pls
Profile Image for Beth.
700 reviews572 followers
September 3, 2017
Bumping this up to 4 Stars!

He knew it himself. He, too, wanted what he shouldn't. He, too, felt how the heart chooses its own home and refuses reason. Not here, he'd tried to say. Not this. Not mine. Never.

So this book for me was completely different from The Winner's Curse and I'm not saying that's a bad thing! There were a few elements that I really really enjoyed, and some things were so well done and well thought out! In this book though I really really missed the friendship between Arin and Kestrel, not only that, but the minimal interactions between the pair was also excruciating! (In a way where I wanted more) I knew coming into this, things weren't going to be the same, there had to be lots of changes and lots of deception throughout this book.

"You gave me so much once" - Arin

I had originally put this at a 3.5 star rating, but I've been thinking about this, and it's so much more than what I initially thought. The reason why I didn't mark it as high originally because I thought of all the dishonesty and not being truthful, however that is what this book is made for! It's about playing the game.

What I enjoyed so much, was the slow burning of this story, as you are told everything that Kestrel does/plans you're screaming at your book for Arin to just make sense of things! I was honestly like YOU CAN DO IT!

I'm just going to merge Kestrel and Arin together. Normally I do bit by bit, but they can go together I've decided. I found some things that they both did really, really frustrating in this book. One of my biggest peeves is that Arin murders people in the past and has done in this book and will probably do so in the final book as "sacrifices" however Kestrel does it with good reason and he just doesn't want to know. Do you know what that is? Pot calling the kettle black. This time round we saw the warrior side to both of these characters both overcoming something. I literally cannot wait get properly into the next book!

What I liked?
- The flashbacks used throughout, we got glimpses of the first book, and Arins perspective of this. I thought it was really clever and something a bit different to see more, Arin was such a closed character in the first book, so it was really welcoming to see what he actually felt.
- We got to see more characters, I mean I didn't like them all but we got to know more! For example my two favourites were Tensen (I AM WEAK, HE'S SO LOVABLE) and Verex, they're both so kind. One is very very smart, and the other comes across as a humble character but so sweet!
- Deliah
- All of the deception, it was a delight!
That bloody letter
- Okay, can I just say how clever the moth idea was! At first I was like, this is a bit sadistic... BUT what came from it was SUCH a good plan!

What didn't I like?
- Now I know I always say I love to hate a character, but I cannot stand the emperor. He's literally evil.
- Silly as this is, I missed Kestrels friendships with a lot of the characters...

So much anticipation for the final book! The Winner's Kiss I'm not ready for you.

The Winner's Curse - 4 Stars
The Winner's Crime - 4 Stars
The Winner's Kiss - 4 Stars
Profile Image for Angela.
629 reviews1,326 followers
May 3, 2016
"I leap without feet to land, my cloth head is filled with sand. I have no wings, yet try to fly... what am I?"... The second and dramatic second book two of The Winner's Curse series perhaps mmmmm.....

I was very, very lucky to get an Arc of The Winner's Crime.

I know that when it comes to reading books I only care about one true thing, and that is how the book ends. I REPEAT: IT'S ALL ABOUT THAT ENDING! Doesn't matter if it's the first book or last book in a series. If you don't bring a strong ending then don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya... The thing Marie Rutkoski doesn't disappoint on is book endings. The Winner's Crime is no different.

TWC starts off where the first book left off. Krestle is still set to marry the Valoria's crown prince in an ever so awk marriage arrangement. She's still struggling between what is right and what is wrong; who to trust and where her true alliance lies. (Even I still don't know whose side I'm on). Marie Rutkoski isn't just skilled at book ending she's amazing at dropping oh so subtle hints that are usually closely followed by "WTF" moments. This book is sprinkled like a cupcake with surprises that I can't wait for you all to get a taste of.

This book is however very much a second book in a trilogy. It has moments that are a little slower. As usual you know that they are there to lay so much ground work for what will be coming in the next book. The thing I love about this story is Krestle isn't at all your usual suspect as far as ya fem heroines go. She isn't a dagger slinging, muscle having, archery shooting wild women. What she has though is something I think we often overlook in stories, and that is brains. Krestle is oozing with smarts. She has a silver tongue and a quick wit that often lets her see things other over look. This make her even more likeable, believable, and more dangerous than most would think. Arin is still a strong, smart, and very likeable leading male in this novel. And yeah he's still as mysterious and grey eyed as in book one<3. He also may or may not have several sneaky tricks up his borrowed shirt sleeves.

Something I absolutely loved about this whole novel is the brief and amazing moment Rutkoski has between Krestle and the father she fears she will never be able to impress. The moment is beautiful and is written to perfection. The thing I really craved was more Arin and Krestle moments. This one didn't have as many as I hope for BUT I'm hoping it's because book three will be overflowing with steamy star-crossed lover-ness and I can be super giddy and heart eyed that whole book. I just want to shake them both and scream "come on and get together already and make beautiful piano playing babies!". Still the main thing I have to say about this book is THE ENDING THE ENDING THE ENDING!!! IT IS PERFECT, and is worth some of the more book building moments, and slower paced scenes. I have NO doubt that the ending of this series will knock my socks off.

feel free to heck out more of our review on http://southernbredsouthernread.blogs...
Profile Image for Clara.
132 reviews171 followers
August 16, 2016
** 5 beautiful but frustrating stars **

I loved this sequel as much as the first book The Winner’s curse !!

To me, this book was all about Kestrel, how she shone brighter than ever, and her growth as a character. In this second book, she’s maturing and slowly finding out who she wants to be. She will realize her mistakes, what she did wrong, she will feel the guilt and then will try to do the right thing, at least what she thinks is the right thing. I absolutely love Kestrel character’s development as well as her struggles with wanting to be someone better but not being able to show it for fear of what could happen to her or worse to Arin. I could understand all her lies to him, because she only wanted to protect him, and I loved how she stayed strong and fierce until the end, never betraying herself or Arin. Kestrel is such a strong and smart character, with a mind that equals no one. She’s also brave and faithful, a great strategist and loyal daughter, always trying to do the right thing and protect the ones she loves. I admire Kestrel so much, she’s really amazing !

I thought Arin’s characterization was not as well developed as Kestrel’s, than he didn't shine as bright as Kestrel did or as much as he did in book 1, but I still loved him so deeply and admired how persistent he was towards Kestrel through much of the book. Arin is someone who follows and trusts his heart, he never lets gossips, appearances or what Kestrel tells him deters him. He trusts that he knows deep down who Kestrel is and he’s determined not to let her go and be someone she’s not and doesn’t want to be. Arin had the knack for making my heart squeeze with how faithful he stayed to Kestrel, how he wanted her, how, each time, he would open his heart to her and try to figure out what she feels in return. I also liked his will to help his people and how resourceful and brave he is. Arin has the same strong mind as Kestrel, which only makes them even more perfect for each other !

I’ll be honest, this book was freaking frustrating ! I got so frustrated at some point with all the lies and misunderstandings between Kestrel and Arin ! They could never be on the same page, and each of their scenes together was so heart-breaking, intense and powerful, with sparks flying and butterflies dancing ! I thought I would go crazy with all the lies, I wanted to scream at Kestrel to tell Arin the truth because he was slowly slipping away from her ! I got why she was doing it, I just wanted for things to finally get better for them !
But I was still amazed by how this relationship is handled so well and beautifully, getting you hooked until the final page.

There was still not much action in this book, but it didn’t bother me that much because the plots, lies, strategies and spying were so entertaining and smart ! Sometimes, it would feel like slowly solving a riddle or puzzle, and I would feel so involved with the characters while they slowly figured things out.

Of course, the writing was as beautiful and poetic if not better than in book 1. It’s so enchanting and mesmerizing, transporting you with dreamy words full of metaphors and comparisons, detailing feelings with powerful poetry. The writing just makes you FEEL !

And what kind of ending is that ?! I am NOT okay with that ending !! This is not possible ! I can’t wait several months to have book 3 ! Everything is even worse at the end than it was at the beginning ! This book let me completely frustrated but at the same time awed ! Now, I’m emotionally wrecked and I need book 3 really soon !
Profile Image for Jessica.
260 reviews3,563 followers
April 6, 2016
4.5 stars Ugh this was exhausting to read. SO MANY LIES. Excited for the last book!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,040 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.