Received to review via Netgalley
After The Winner’s Crime, I was a little nervous I wouldn’t like this. After all, while I rated it highly in the end, the second book in the series relied heavily on one of my least favourite tropes: miscommunication, misunderstanding, a refusal to see. Mostly on Arin’s part, but Kestrel contributed plenty: her strategies might be good if they don’t involve Arin, but when he’s involved, she loses her cool and doesn’t know quite what to do. At least in The Winner’s Crime. In The Winner’s Kiss, well: things change. The plot moves pretty swiftly, and though there was a brief part where Arin’s ignorance was so contrived I wanted to scream (the narrative flagging up “there’s a messenger and oh, Arin forgets to see him!” just made me want to bash my head against something, I’m afraid), eventually he gets the message and things get back on track.
I read The Winner’s Kiss in one day; in many respects, it makes a very satisfying ending. Kestrel and Arin both find out more about themselves, and each other; things aren’t easy, but they find their way. When an opportunity for all-too-easy revenge rears its head, Rutkoski went for a more complex and more effective way of dealing with the aftermath of betrayal, with the aftermath of a wrecked relationship. There’s no easy resolution to what Kestrel’s father is and has done, but there’s no easy refusal to deal with those issues either.
Things I wanted more of: Sarsine. Jess, and resolution with her. Roshar and his friendship with Arin. Arin the tiger. Risha.
I find that, at the moment, I don’t want to pick this apart any further. I enjoyed it, and I think people will find it a worthy final book in the series. After the tortuous miscommunications of the middle book, this final book gave me more of the feeling I had from the first.