*This review does contain spoilers, if you haven’t read the first book!*
“If you won’t be my friend, you’ll regret being my enemy.”
Synopsis from Goodreads: A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. 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: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. she’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world…and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.
Feelings: I’ve heard a lot of people say that they thought the first book was better than this one, but I completely disagree. I loved the spy elements that grew in this book and Kestrel’s role between Herran and Valoria. There were so many things about this world and the conflicts that clicked for me in this book. And the more I read of Rutkoski’s writing, the more I realize how much I enjoy her storytelling. Her words are so rich and delicately chosen, painting clean pictures in my mind. I feel like she achieved what she was shooting for with this book, whatever it was.
This book was vicious! Nobody was safe and you never knew what was going to happen. This book had more action than the first one did, which basically served to set up the conflict. Murder, betrayal, deceit, tiger attacks…I mean…this book basically jerked me awake and said HERE WE GO. I literally had no idea how it would end.
Issues: By the end of this book, I was so OVER the whole lack of understanding between Arin and Kestrel. It just feels like we’ve been dragging that out for so long. I really expected some amount of reconciliation in this book somewhere but no…things are only worse now. I’m really hoping that in the final book of this trilogy, I don’t have to wait until the last chapter for these two characters to hash their issues out.
Characters: Praise the gods of character development! Kestrel is finally someone that I feel like I understand. In the first book, I couldn’t get past how much of a B she was and wondered if there were layers to her or not. Houston, we have layers! She’s a very complex and intelligent character and I actually enjoyed spending time with her in this book. She’s pushed and pulled in a hundred different directions and finally is figuring out who she is and what her real motivations are.Her dad, y’all…I can’t even…I won’t start on that because I literally can’t…
Arin is no longer naive in any way. He’s hopeful and realistic, sure, but not naive and too trusting. He is also doing some soul searching and trying to find his purpose and role in the mind game battlefield between Herran and Valoria. I loved that he broke away from Kestrel for a little while and found his own self out there in the eastern world.
In my review of the first book, I talked about how both Kestrel and Arin are just people – complex human beings who make mistakes. That’s still true in the second book. I love imperfect characters and these two are becoming more and more appealing to me.
Final thoughts: I’m 99.9% sure I’m going to dive into the third book ASAP. That 0.1% of uncertainty is pure fear that I’m going to be disappointed in how all the loose ends get tied up, or don’t. If you read the first book and enjoyed it, or even felt meh about it, then you should definitely keep reading the series! You will not regret it!
Pick this up if you liked:
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (The Winner’s Crime reminded me of how I felt after reading the sequel to Throne of Glass…)
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Goodreads rating: 4.21/5
Amazon.com rating: 4.4/5
My rating: 4.5/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn