The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Kiss by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Straus and Giroux on March 29th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
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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?

Are you really a boy, like Xash says? the god asked Arin. You’ve been mine for twenty years. I raised you.
The Valorian signed the scrap of paper.
Cared for you.
The message was rolled, sealed, and pushed into a tiny leather tube.
Watched over you when you thought you were alone.
The captain tied the tube to hawk’s leg. The bird was too large to be a kestrel. It didn’t have a kestrel’s markings. It cocked its head, turning its glass-bead eyes on Arin.
No, not a boy. A man made in my image…one who knows he can’t afford to be seen as weak.
The hawk launched into the sky.
You’re mine, Arin. You know what you must do.
Arin cut the Valorian’s throat.

I’m speechless.
This book was the perfect ending to one of my all-time favourite series. I can’t believe it’s over. But it was a beautiful ride, Marie Rutkoski, a truly beautiful ride.
Let’s do some reminiscing. When I first picked up The Winner’s Curse my expectations were pretty low. Books with girls in dresses on the cover? Focused primarily on romance? Not really my thing. However, as soon as I started the novel two things became very clear.

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