My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: March 29th 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, War Setting, Romance, Fantasy
Book One Review: The Winner’s Curse
Book Two Review: The Winner’s Crime
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
Arin is a killing machine.
He lost Kestrel to another man. Now, all he thinks about is plotting, killing and winning. There is no more soft and loving Arin – that man is gone. His god wants destruction, and that’s what he’s going to give him.
Kestrel is a slave.
Her father threw her to the wolves. She’s a captive, constrained to work all day with drugs pulsating through her body. No more pretty dresses and flawless skin for her. She has no way out and no one to save her.
But that doesn’t keep her from trying.
The cover is deceiving. It makes Kestrel look like she is an innocent and gentle little lamb, but she isn’t. She’s never been stronger. Being a slave changed her. Now, she understands what Arin must have lived through. She’s more determined than ever to stop her father.
When two people are subject to similar atrocities, a powerful link is created between them. It’s more – better – than love, because it’s indestructible.
The romance in this book is nothing like it is in The Winner’s Curse. It’s not forced or expected, but slow, uncertain and exquisitely written. During romantic scenes, I would helplessly hold my breath, my lips would part and my eyes slowly widen.
I craved for Arin and Kestrel to be together. The author will make you beg for it.
The enemies are coming. The Valorians are close and Roshar’s troops aren’t ready for war. They need to win this war. Will it be a slaughter? And who will survive in the end?
Books with war-settings, if the authors don’t pull them off, can be repetitive, tedious and overly complex. Fortunately, regardless of its slow pacing, The Winner’s Kiss is a book I would reread over and over again. Marie Rutkoski takes things slow, but she intelligently, clearly and structurally approaches the subject of war and of all of its components.
This is a young adult alternate version of the Captive Prince series, I kid you not. The war setting, the unspoken sexual tension between Kestrel and Arin and the characters’ cunning personalities all reminded me of this favourite series of mine. I saw so much of Damen and Laurent in Arin and Kestrel.
Dear readers, you’re not going to want to miss this breathtaking conclusion.