Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
What I Thought…
- The Winner’s Curse is not my typical read. It’s kind of historical fantasy I guess? Historical books are usually hit or miss for me and I’m not a huge fan of fantasy but I thoroughly enjoyed The Winner’s Curse.
- The Winner’s Curse starts off a bit slow, but packs a mean punch at the end.
- The world in The Winner’s Curse was both disturbing and amazing. Rutkoski builds a wonderful place full of terrible things. The Valorians conquered and then took over, basically claiming that everything they won was theirs and came from them and the others were nothing. Of course there is talk of rebellion and further conquering. I absolutely loved the world building. It was unique and different and even though it’s driving me a little crazy that I don’t know the time or place of The Winner’s Curse I can let it go because Rutkoski took me there without those pesky details.
- Kestrel is the daughter of the general, who of course is a ruthless man who wants his daughter to do what he wants and not what she wants. Kestrel is no shrinking violet though. She knows what she wants (not to be in the military or get married) but not always sure about how to go about it (since it’s a law that she does one or the other). I loved her cleverness and the choices that she made. They may not have always been the smartest choices, but they were right for her.
- Arin is the slave that Kestrel buys. She pays a high price for him (literally and figuratively) that sets her down a different path. Arin has had a lot of suffering in his life and it shows in his actions and words. I loved his personality and all the secrets we find out about him.
- The romance between Kestrel and Arin is one of my favorite kind of romances – slow and steady with lots of anticipation and chemistry. Arin and Kestrel make a good match. At times it appears like things might turn into a love triangle, but never fear, Rutkosi knows what she is doing!
- The Winner’s Curse has a good mix of light moments and heavy moments. Moments that make me laugh and a few that almost made me cry. A couple scenes in particular had me all sorts of angry!
- I’m not 100% sold on Kestrel’s friend Jess. There were moments where I liked her a lot and others where I just wanted her to go away. She is not as mature as Kestrel and I feel like this made their friendship off balance, though you can see that they have a good solid friendship.
- There are several different bad guys, each with their own personal flair of evilness. Kestrel has unique ways of dealing with some of the evilness, all of which I loved.
Whether you like fantasy or historical books I recommend The Winner’s Curse to everyone!