Review: The Winner's Kiss (#3, The Winner's Trilogy) by Marie Rutkoski - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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Review: The Winner’s Kiss (#3, The Winner’s Trilogy) by Marie Rutkoski


My Thoughts

Exquisite and beautifully penned
the perfect evocative, exciting finale to one of my favorite series.



Mar-01War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people-and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks.

But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win?

My Review

As first seen on USA Today HEA

“Once there was a girl who was too sure of herself. Not everyone would call her beautiful, but they admitted she had a certain grace that intimidated more often than it charmed. She was not, society agreed, someone you wanted to cross. She keeps her heart in a porcelain box, people whispered, and they were right.”

Marie Rutkoski’s delivers a gut-wrenching, heart-pounding page turner with The Winner’s Kiss—the final book in the critically acclaimed series, The Winner’s Trilogy.  Rutkoski pens a luminous narrative in her one-of-a-kind style, which is both sharp and fluid, intimate and expansive, expressing both a character and story depth you don’t often see. In this highly anticipated finale, the stakes have never been higher for Kestrel and Arin, as well as the kingdoms they bleed to defend.

Arin has brokered an alliance with the East and readies for war. With Death whispering in his ear and revenge sharpening his aim, he’s determined to give the Herrani a different fate than the one he’s endured.

“One day you will have your revenge.”

The last time he saw Kestrel, he walked away from her derisions and swore he wouldn’t look back. He had trusted too blindly, loved her too much, but he was certain his heart had finally severed the ache of her betrayal.

“Arin knew that some things hurt forever, but Kestrel wasn’t one of them. She was a wound that had finally healed clean.”

And yet his mind continued to anchor on her, on whether she was happy now, married to the Prince and in her father’s good graces. Unbeknownst to him, however, Kestrel, was not being paraded through high society, she’d been caged and shipped off to a brutal work camp in North.

“It was grief. It was the horror of someone who’d been dealt a winning hand, had bet her life on the game, and then proceeded (deliberately?) to lose.”

It’s striking to envision the 17-year-old Kestrel we first met, who despite not caring for big frilly dresses, indeed lived a life many envied. Her father forced a choice between a life in the military and marriage, and yet now, even those choices were gone as she faced a future she never imagined. Kestrel has always been a sharp-minded fighter, tough and fearless, yet vulnerable and emotive—a duality that has always made her so striking. As she is carried away in a tattered blue dress and enslaved in the camp, Rutkoski composes the most evocative scenes in the series.

The story unravels from there in a mix of battles and blood, truths and choices. When Arin discovers the truth behind Kestrel’s well-intentioned lies and the grim reality of her fate, a new kind of fury pervades. But when their paths cross again, new struggles keep them apart.

“Are you not mine? Am I not yours?… To whom else would you ever belong?”

As the battles rage on, Kestrel and Arin must bridge the chasm between them, shedding all lies and pretenses, if they are to win at both games of war, and of the heart.

Loyal readers of the series will be thrilled with this entirely satisfying finale as both Kestrel and Arin face the demons of their past, the betrayals of those they’ve loved, and the possibility of a future where they can finally be free and together.

“I want you to be mine, wholly mine, your heart too.”

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