Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
I enjoyed the first installment quite a lot but this second volume left me frustrated and annoyed every few chapters. Even when I genuinely want to see what happens next and how Kestrel and Arin’s torturous love affair pans out, I am fatigued by these two high position political figures acting so impulsively on their “love” for each other and by their constant misunderstanding of each other. They put themselves and everyone around them at huge risks: which is convenient for plot-advancement but inconsistent to the characters’ traits and talents at being sophisticated gamers (as laid out in the first book.) I also simply could not buy all their sneaking about, being so readily aided by the servants when neither Kestrel nor Arin are being portrayed as having gained any loyal followers by their talents in winning trust or sympathy.
The “games” element that were the breath of fresh air and made the tale stand out in the first volume (Winner’s Curse) were also woefully lacking in this one.
The ending, though, was a well-placed fruit, just out of reach, and enticing enough for me to read the final book when it comes out next year.