The Winner's Kiss isn't an ordinary book.
It's a poem. A sad melody. The blood that pumps in your veins. The air that ruffles your hair.
It's a promise.A promise of love lost and found.
It is beauty, in its purest and most radiant form.
The tale of two enemies that fell in love, lied, schemed and betrayed each other continues, sweeping everything in its path. Arin tries to win a war that seems like a lost cause, Kestrel pays the price of her mistakes. Arin wants to forget her, Kestrel tries to forgive him. They're hurt and angry, desperate and hopeful, ready to gamble one last time, to find out whether they're blessed or cursed. To find out whether they can handle the truth.
“Every chip of her being slid into place, into the image of a lost world. The boy discovering it. The girl who sees it spark and flare, and understands, now, what she feels. She realizes that she has felt this for a long time.”
Do you know the feeling when you love a book so much that the mere thought of it makes your chest swell and your heart ache and your eyes water? It's the most satisfying feeling in the world. Marie Rutkoski managed to compose a tale of war and love with threads of sadness, hope and despair, all of them at the same time. Her writing is lyrical. Expressive. You can taste it in your tongue. You can travel into faraway lands, smell the gunpowder, shiver under the rain. Her descriptions, her battle plans, her military strategies, everything is crafted so masterly that you can't help but bow to her brilliant mind and her brilliant pen. She has the power to shatter your heart and then mend it, and repeat the same process until you don't know what's left of you to give but you give it nonetheless. She is magic.
“He hadn't been blessed by the god of death.
Arin was the god of death.”
God of death or god of lies, Arin is a character you can't help but love deeply. He's changed, he doesn't regret the blood he's shed, he's cunning and manipulative, but he's also afraid. He blames himself for every misfortune that's ever happened to the people he cares about but he loves fiercely and expects nothing in return. In this book his patience and his thoughtfulness made me weep several times. But Kestrel's trials also bought me tears. She had been strong for so long that she finally gave up, and the result was gut-wrenching. All she ever wanted has her father to love her for who she is, she wanted his approval and his acceptance and all she got was pain and betrayal. She was afraid to open up her heart again, and Arin posed the most imminent danger. Her pride, her wit and her fire make her one of the best female heroines an author has ever created.
“She looked into the shadowed corners of the room. Talking with him was like having a flower unfold inside her chest, then close up tight. Creep open. Collapse in on itself.”
In the final book of this trilogy, Arin and Kestrel got to know each other and fall in love from the start and this time, there were no lies and deception but bluntness and honesty. And trust. Roshar's part managed to break the tension and offer lighthearted moments of laughter, a great addition to help me breathe. Because I drowned in a sea of bittersweet, agonizing emotions and I was overwhelmed by a longing and a desire so palpable that felt like they were my own. But Marie didn't focus only on romantic love. There was also the family love, a bond that seemed broken and even though you were angry, deep down you wanted it to survive.
And now that this magnificent series has ended, I don't want to say goodbye. Instead,I'll say thank you. Thank you Marie Rutkoski. For Arin and Kestrel. For this wonderful ending. For everything.
“Come closer, and I will tell you."
But he forgot. He kissed her, and became lost in the exquisite sensation of his skin becoming too tight for his body. He murmured other things instead. A secret, a want, a promise. A story, in its own way.”