Description from GoodReads:
"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."
Carolyn's thoughts on the book:
Firstly, it should be noted that I will make references to certain plot points of the first book in the series, so be duly warned - spoilers may abound.
I enjoyed the first book of the Winner's Trilogy (The Winner's Curse), and I loved the sequel (which definitely defies the dreaded 'Middle Book Bridge Syndrome') - to the extent that I actually liked it better than the first. Something that I love in this series is the intricate world-building. While the completely different setting gives the series more of a fantasy feel, I would classify it as dystopian (although the world Kestrel inhabits is only as technologically advanced as pre-industrial Europe). Valoria, the country Kestral lives in, is a violently bloody and expansionist nation that has conquered (and at one point, enslaved) the neighboring country of Herran, artistically superior but militarily inferior to Valoria (thus emulating the Romans vs Greeks dynamic).
After freeing the enslaved Herrani by promising to marry the Emperor's son, Kestral finds herself in a delicate position: her loyalty constantly tested by her future-father in law, her fiancé less-than-happy to be engaged to someone he has never met, and her country aggressively pursuing complete domination through warfare. The politician and patriot inside of her wants to support the empire, even at all costs, and the loving daughter inside of her wants to prove her military worth to her father, the head of the Valorian army. However, her sense of humanity and her complicated relationship with Arin cause her to question the complex, privileged world she's come to reside in, and ultimately side with the oppressed. Once her slave-turned-captor (during the slave revolt), now the governor of the Herran peninsula, Arin couldn't be further apart from Kestrel (who reciprocates his disdain and distance). But when Kestrel joins the Herrani cause, unbeknownst to Arin, their lives (as well as their secrets) become even more entangled.
The Winner's Crime is a superb sequel, and would make a great read for teens and adults who enjoy political intrigue, dystopian stories, and even fantasy. I'm eagerly awaiting the publication of the third novel, The Winner's Kiss, in March of 2016.
Official Book trailer:
Carolyn is a teen blogger who shares her favorite YA reads and favorite book related finds with readers on Fridays.