The Winner’s Kiss

The Winner's Kissby Marie Rutkoski
YA Fantasy
5 of 5 stars

This book is incredible, but I’ll attempt to tone down my fangirling! I had no idea what to expect with this book–I recommended The Winner’s Crime constantly last year (seriously, if you read my blog on the regular you were probably wanting me to get a grip, but I just loved it that much!)–and I knew this trilogy could end with a clever happily ever after or a satisfying tragedy. I was fine either way–I trust the author that much.

Don’t worry, I won’t tell you how it ends!

*Spoilers for The Winner’s Crime*

Kestrel and Arin’s story has taken a dark turn at this point. They’re on the same side (but Arin doesn’t know that) and they’ve agreed they can’t be together (for completely different reasons) and just when Kestrel decides she’s ready for Arin to know the truth, Arin doesn’t get the letter pouring out her heart and detailing her secret deceptions. Her father does. And he lets the emperor banish her to a work camp in the north. Now we see how Kestrel and Arin handle the worst challenges they’ve ever faced. Understandably, Arin is trying to forget Kestrel, and Kestrel has some deep-rooted daddy issues to sort out.

Personally, I have loved Kestrel since about halfway through the first book. My shelves are full of warrior girls, girls finding their Destinies as queens and goddesses and leaders in rebellions. They’re all small but fierce, talented with some weapon or magical skill. They are very fun, but Kestrel is nothing like any of them. And I kind of like her better. Kestrel’s untalented physically. She can’t fight, and she doesn’t want to. She relies on outwitting her opponents, and she continues to do so here. The game of wits between her and the general is agonizing and emotional from start to finish. Her arc deeply resonates with me and her struggle to put names to her emotions is so moving. This book is a fitting end to her story–I’ll say no more!

I’ve never been as enthralled with Arin, but he was much more interesting to me in this book. Both of them experience so much growth with the perfect balance of light and dark moments–Rutkoski devotes most of this book to their changing feelings (amidst the backdrop of war and plenty of battles) and it has a serious mood I don’t often find in YA, but I love it.

The tone is heavier than the first two and there are a lot of descriptions, so I can see how this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re in the mood for a different type of YA, it’s going to delight you!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Winner’s Kiss is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – A band of criminals is drawn together with the promise of a payout if they complete an impossible heist. They have nothing in common but this prize, and they all plan to betray each other once they succeed. This is YA at its finest–it’s flawless and you’ll fly through it! See my review here.
  • Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat – This trilogy is remarkably similar to The Winner’s Trilogy, with m/m romance and more explicit scenes. The devious characters plot and play at the adult level here, the writing is top-notch, and there are more schemes than you could wish for. See my review here.
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore – A companion novel to Graceling, this follows the last human-shaped monster, Fire, as she becomes a tool to Prince Brigan to uncover a plot against the king. Fire’s beauty and gift for mind-control means she can have whatever she wants, but all she wants is not to become the monster her father was.
  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – Aelin returns to Adarlan for her most difficult mission yet-destroy the empires of the King of the Assassins and the King of Adarlan at the same time. See my review here.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. erinkbay
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 21:07:27


    Liked by 1 person


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