The Winner’s Kiss is the third and final book in The Winner’s Trilogy, which means that this review contains spoilers for the first two books. I highly recommend this trilogy so check out my review of The Winner’s Curse instead if you haven’t started this series!
THE WINNER’S KISS SYNOPSIS
Wishes don’t win wars
The empire is at war and a heartbroken Arin leads his people to battle. But he can’t forget Kestrel – or how she’s betrayed him. Kestrel is a sly, ruthless killer, caring more for the glory of the empire than for the lives of innocent people – and certainly more than for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is sentenced to life imprisonment in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for an 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.
Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I was expecting big, big things from this third and final book because of how much I enjoyed The Winner’s Crime, and all of the tension and anticipation that that book contained. Sadly, The Winner’s Kiss didn’t reach the epic heights that I expected, but I have to acknowledge that my expectations were really really high. But even though it didn’t quite meet all of my ridiculously high expectations, I still highly enjoyed it and thought it was a great ending to the trilogy.
Just like the previous two books, The Winner’s Kiss is quite slow in pace but quick to read because the writing is so addictive. There wasn’t very much action in the first half of the book and it felt like 200 pages of fluff but ultimately, I thought it was still really satisfying to read. I wasn’t the biggest fan of something that happened in that first part of the novel because I thought that it added a lot of unnecessary drama to the book. Having said that, it was still fun to read and I completely respect the author’s decision to incorporate that aspect (I know, I’m being super vague).
I was a bit disappointed with the lack of action in The Winner’s Kiss. After finishing The Winner’s Crime, I was expecting lots and lots of epic action and strategy, and that’s really not what you get from the first 50-65% of the book. And this was, in part, due to all that unnecessary drama that I mentioned before. Having said that, the first two books in this trilogy didn’t have very much action either, so I can’t say that the lack of action in this finale was completely surprising. What this trilogy did have in the previous two books was political intrigue and strategy and I wanted to see more of it in this book because that’s what I associate with Kestrel and with this trilogy. Instead, it kind of fell by the wayside in favour of the aforementioned unnecessary drama. But, once the action finally commenced in the last third of the novel, I really enjoyed it. There was one thing that I predicted before the reveal, which made it less epic and exciting for me, but I highly enjoyed how the whole novel and trilogy ended.
As always, the characters were really, really great. I highly enjoyed Arin’s character in this book and didn’t feel frustrated with him at all (which I did in previous books). We got to see the good, bad, strong and vulnerable sides of him and I just loved the complexity that Marie Rutkoski brought to his character. I also liked Kestrel in this book, but I do have to say that I loved her character a lot more in the previous two books. Because of something that happened in this novel, I felt like her character was slightly different to who she had been in the past. However, the intelligent and strategic side of her was still present and I was really happy to see that. What I was slightly disappointed with were the side characters. We got to meet so many interesting characters in The Winner’s Crime and they were hardly present in this book. I was expecting them to play a greater role and was really looking forward to what they would bring to story, but sadly they barely featured in this final book. We did get a good dose of Roshar though, and he was funny and a fantastic character.
Overall, I highly enjoyed this final book, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It had less action than I thought it would have and the whole book just didn’t have the intensity that I wanted. Having said that, it was still a highly exciting and satisfying read and I definitely recommend this trilogy.