Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski delivers a satisfying ending to a fab trilogy

Posted on 02/24/2016 in Book Review / 2 Comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski delivers a satisfying ending to a fab trilogyThe Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3) by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux on March 29th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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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.\r\nAt least, that’s what he thinks.\r\nIn 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.\r\nBut no one gets what they want just by wishing.\r\nAs 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?\r\n


  • The text is richly descriptive.  Rutkoski pulls no punches with the conditions of the slave camp and the depths from which Kestral must be saved.
  • I really enjoyed Kestral’s indecisiveness when it came to her father.  He was a terrible father, but I think his fear and grief paralyzed any love he might have shown her over the years.
  • The Winner’s Kiss is very much a book of redemption and over-coming PTSD.  I liked that Rutkoski didn’t sacrifice the slow process of overcoming PTSD in favor of keeping the story more fast-paced.  In reality, sufferers of PTSD are a slow recovery and as a reader, it felt authentic for me to be frustrated with Kestral and internally shouting at her to get over it already.  Because those emotions and reactions happen in real life, too.
  • Arin
  • Arin
  • And more Arin
  • Roshar is probably my favorite secondary character.  He was saucy and playful, but he had a fine edge that would cut you badly if you got on his wrong side.  I actually would love side stories with him as the main character.  Marie, can we please have that?!
  • Most of all, I enjoyed that we are shown that looks and circumstances can be deceiving.  People are not always what they seem and maybe we should walk miles in their shoes before we aim to get revenge.


  • It was, at times, very slow.  But that mostly has to do with the PTSD and while it was slow in parts, Rutkoski did use that time for good character building.
  • I would like to have seen more from Verex and Risha; I don’t think Rutkoski took enough advantage of them in this final book.

  I really had to reach for things I didn’t love.  Overall, The Winner’s Kiss will satisfy fans of the story because it delivers a realistic ending to a war-ridden world and romance, and really, I can never get enough of Kestral and Arin!