genre: young adult fiction
This book is the second in the winners curse trilogy so for sure there are spoilers if you read ahead.
Living in the palace is one giant game of intrigue and deception. Kestrel is engaged to the future emperor but her traitorous heart cannot let go of thoughts of her former slave Arin. While war rages in the east, Kestrel has to decide what side she is on - will she be loyal to the emperor, his empire and her father, whatever the cost, or is the price of that loyalty going to require her to rewrite her own sense of right and wrong? Is it worth it?
In some ways this is a typical middle-of-a-trilogy novel. Our love interests have completely misunderstood each other and the plot is moving forward from two viewpoints. But despite its predictable form, I really was engaged in what was happening to the characters and didn't want to put it down. Ever. Even while it's not romantically resolved, there is still momentum that keeps it interesting. The writing is tight and believable, with only a few plotholes that were easy to forgive. Kestrel is just complicated, trying to figure out what it is that she actually wants to do - and while all the flipping and flopping was sometimes frustrating, it felt realistic. It is still a violent story set in an ancient-type world I am dying to find out how it ends.