- Page Count: 416
- Release Date: March 3, 2015
- My Rating: 5 stars
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.
Well that was the most heartbreakingly stressful book ever. I am SO glad I waited until the third book came out to read this!!! I would’ve been a total mess otherwise. With the first book I ended up skimming some chapters out of boredom, but this book was on a whole other level. I was flying through pages out of anxiety for characters I suddenly loved.
I’m seriously impressed with the enormous progress in worldbuilding and character development that this book added. The writing in the first book wasn’t necessarily bad or anything, but it improved so much in this sequel! There is absolutely no second book syndrome here. Arin and Kestrel’s romance is at the center of the book, yet the story is more about their individual character development as they try to figure out their own motivations, what they believe is true, and how far they’ll go for each other. Deceit, love, betrayal, and generally misplaced trust run throughout every relationship in the book.
Marie Rutkoski wove both Arin and Kestrel into such complicated, painful situations that the whole book just flew by in this suspenseful blur. There is so much tension between them even when they’re not together that you can almost feel it, yet it’s not the empty angst that fills a lot of YA novels. It seems hard to find a well-executed, seriously thought out YA fantasy novel with believable characters these days so I’m probably going to go make everyone I know read this series now.
EXCEPT I’M STILL NOT OVER THAT ENDING. I’m so glad I waited until the third book was coming out to read this or else I don’t know how I would’ve functioned for a year. Talk about a cliffhanger.