ARC Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

ARC Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
Published on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
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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.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

DNF at 25%


Poor tragic Kestral has tied herself into a marriage with someone she doesn’t love to save someone she does.


Like, whatever. Fuck your fake version of slavery.


Fuck Kestral, too. At 25%, which is where I put this book down once and for all nearly in tears, she casually suggests murdering a whole herd of horses to save some land and make the people more vulnerable to invasion (and probably slavery). She’s a total doormat too, and completely passive. By 25% through the book, literally nothing had happened except Kestral had a few boring conversations with boring people and Arin rocked up to sexually harass her.




And Arin? Not only is he sexist and elitist, but the way it’s written, Kestral is supposed to have power over him. Yet she never does. He sexually harasses Kestral, and it’s probably more like sexual assault, except that afterwards we find out that Kestral’s emphatic ‘NO’ really did mean ‘yes’. So fuck you, too.



Just like in the previous book, it’s really icky and gross. Kestral way outranks Arin, yet he pushes her around, sexually assaults her (although she likes it) and generally disrespects her. Yet she can’t stop thinking about him.



I genuinely tried to give this book a chance even though I didn’t like the first one very much, because most of my reading friends absolutely swoon over the romance. True, the writing is spectacularly beautiful, but I despise Arin and I think I pretty much hate Kestral. I think whether someone will like The Winner’s Crime might be based entirely on how romantic they think being pushed around and disrespected by someone lower ranked than them is. And whether they think sexual harassment is sexy.

no criticism


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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5 thoughts on “ARC Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

  1. Eilonwy

    Whoa. This sounds totally toxic! Thanks for the warnings, Nemo. I’ll avoid these books for sure. I’m sorry you suffered this far into them. 🙁

  2. Akshaya Mohan

    This came as an utter shock to me, because so far I have read approximately 587962453 positive reviews about Winner’s Crime. I agree that the writing was terrific, which was what made me love the first book to a certain extent, and gave me the willpower to put up with Arin (along with some mental chanting: I do not hate Arin, I do not hate Arin, one cannot hate the male lead, intense is attractive, etc), plus the fact that Kestral’s relationship with Arin was not the focus of the story helped out a little. I had rather hoped that the romance would improve (because every single one of those 587962453 reviewers said it was fantastic), but aaaarrghh, I DO NOT LIKE HOW THIS SOUNDS.
    P.S. Why do I have a sneaky feeling that the last sentence may be a reference to Fifty Shades? xD
    P.P.S. Where are the Rapunzel/Waiting gifs from?

    1. Nemo

      Oh, you disliked Arin as well? It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I’m sorry this is the first negative review you’ve read, but I’m one of those people who thinks consent and respect are sexy, and sexual harassment and assault are most definitely NOT.
      At least I gave the second book a chance, what with all my friends ranting and raving about how romantic it was. Quite honestly it made me want to hurl.
      The last sentence is not a reference to 50 Shades, but I guess it does cover a lot of the recent uprisings of abusive boyfriends/virgin girlfriend fiction.
      The princess gifs are actually Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona from Shrek the Musical. Rapunzel’s pretty close, though.

      1. Akshaya Mohan

        YES. YES TO CONSENT. I mean, what grudge do YA/NA authors hold against a female lead who is confident in her own sexuality/feelings (without the slut shaming later, please)? The only such protagonists I have read about are usually the ones who “sleep around” because they want to forget some “traumatic past” and later MAGICALLY reform after the virtuous hero either becomes her friend-with-benefits-turned-one-true-love or refuses to touch her unless she gives up her evil ways. Urgh.
        It’s a good thing that I’ve been seeing more and more people recognize the harmfulness of a relationship a la 50 Shades, but there have also been young women my age calling it “romantic with a sexy twist” and because of the growing popularity, a couple of my acquaintances from school who have NEVER read any book I’ve recommended to them (no matter how awesome) are now all reading 50 Shades, and this frustrates me so much!
        Shrek the Musical? Putting that on my To Watch list NOW 😀 (I said Rapunzel because that’s the book Fiona’s holding) I see the similarities now- the dress, the hair…

        Akshaya Mohan recently posted: Why I Cried

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