Book Review: The Winner’s Kiss – Marie Rutkoski

Last time I wrote the review for Winner’s Curse, I was slow on book blog schedule.

Last time I wrote the review for Winner’s Crime, I was slow on reading schedule.

And when I’m writing this review for Winner’s Kiss, I’m very slow on reading schedule.

Btw this spoils you if you haven’t read the other two books, so read at your own risk!



Name: The Winner’s Kiss
Author: Marie Rutokski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR),
Bloomsbury (my edition)
Release Date: March 29, 2016; March 24, 2016 (Bloomsbury)


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?

Book Cover Comments


The only thing I’d like to know, is why each cover needs a different dress color instead of having a unified system XD

Also finally, the dress flows onto the spine.
Btw this is the only one where model Kestrel ain’t holding a sword lmao
This sounds more like a trivia than a comment but anyhow…

The Actual Review


Even more plot twists.

This plot twist was even more heartbreaking than The Winner’s Crime. Well I can’t spoil you, reader, but as you know if you’ve read the synopsis, is that Kestrel was sent to the work camp, and something grave happens to her. Something that turned her into like those around her, all the other victims who fell to the tortures and the toughness of the work camps. And we surround this plot point and open the rest of the story. And it is this event that breaks readers’ hearts the most.

“What am I now?”
Sarsine held both of Kestrel’s hands. “Whatever you want to be.”

I think whats so special about what happened in Kestrel just really proves that Kestrel’s love and Arin’s love knows no ends, and no matter what barriers were put between them, through this ultimate test of love, Kestrel finds her way back to Arin, and Arin finds his way to her.

“Will you come with me?”
“Ah, Kestrel, that’s something you never need to ask.”

It’s probably predictable in the fact that Arin and Kestrel will reunite. So let’s continue now that I’ve slightly spoiled a predicted plot point! But hey, when you’re so deeply immersed in both Kestrel’s torturous mine life and Arin’s torturous feels, you completely forget that you just predicted that plot point.

“If I die, you’ll survive. If you die, it will destroy me.”

The Winner’s Kiss plays even more with warfare and strategic thinking. I super love those detailed scenes that Marie Rutkoski was able to write out: what steps should you take when in battle, strategies or weak spots to hit so that the enemy might falter, falling into one’s trap, but at the same time, they are falling into the trap that you said.
jks lmao

“You don’t need to be gifted with a blade. You are your own best weapon.”

Other points for plot, is that the first half of the book is heart ache worthy. Then the second half of the book is strategical thinking full points. It was really really well written, and despite me not caring too much about warfare IRL, I couldn’t help myself but getting sucked into how the characters plan their moves to try to take down Valoria and the King.

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.

We also get to know more about the characters from the Eastern country, in which, I forgot to mention because I was going through amnesia, were already introduced in the second book. Roshar, prince of the Eastern country in which I have forgotten it’s name because I’m a terrible person, accompanies Arin on his journey. I find him really hard to understand, since he just has so many sides, and not even I am able to get an idea on all of it.

“You could offer her a seat,” Arin said.

“Ah, but I have only two chairs in my tent, little Herrani, and we are three. I suppose she could always sit on your lap.”

And surrounding Roshar’s world is a mysterious person who will play an important role in the final parts of the book, and that person was totally unexpected. This person was introduced in book 2, but I had no idea that person was pretty much faking their identity like so, and bringing out his/her full potential when wanting to protect the person he/she wants to protect.

“I tried so hard to live in your world,” she told him. “Now it’s your turn to live in mine.”

And this person he/she wants to protect, in my sense, is a little bit stubborn at times, but I feel so sorry for this person, for the fact that some decisions throughout this book was out of kindheartedness and loyalty, and in some ways, I’ve figured as I’m typing this, this person is very similar to Kestrel’s relationship with her father.

“You will be lonely, but you’ll become strong.”

A very shocking and amazing conclusion, The Winner’s Kiss ends the beautifully written strategy, full of romance, strategical thinking, warfares, web of lies, politics, and a little bit of faith in one’s religion.

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Joanne Lumiere

Joanne is the narcissistic founder of her book blog, Joanne Lumiere. Born and raised in Hong Kong, this 18 year old brat is currently attending college in Los Angeles, and still doesn't know how to read books with sophistication, and yet she runs a blog.

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