Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Published: March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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.
My review is going to be short simply because The Winner’s Curse is raved about everywhere and therefore I just want to touch on the main points that drew me in. Normally a book with so much hype would turn me away or wouldn’t live up to it for me. I don’t seem to follow the norm on my book obsessions. This book however was very different. It did start off slow for me and I wasn’t instantly enthralled but as I got into it, I became that way. Marie Rutkoski blew me away with her fantastic writing on this breathtaking and heartbreaking story. She carried me into another world and held me hostage. I loved every second of it.
Kestrel and Arin have such an intense relationship! It’s amazing the chemistry that they have without ever touching. They don’t even interact that much at first. They just kind of watch one another. Their romance gives you chills and affects your heart. It’s really emotion evoking and there are only a few fictional couples that I feel this way about. It’s also a relationship that changes both of them, speaking to human nature. How there are two sides of love and a betrayal of love can harden someone and change them into someone else. You can forgive someone you love for what they have done but you can not forget. It’s one of those things that scars your heart because you do love them. Such a complicated emotion and that this book showed so many facets of it is why I loved it. Going both directions because Kestrel bought Arin and Arin betrayed Kestrel. Back and forth betrayal because they also had to think of people beyond themselves. All the feels.
I liked the political intrigue more than I thought I would. I noticed one of Arin’s strategies was quite similar to how the Americans won the Revolutionary war. Of course there are similarities to the Civil War as well and even at times I saw some David and Goliath moments. Especially with the fact that Kestrel is a warrior in the sense of strategy, rather than brute strength. It made me feel like the book was well researched and plotted out.
I loved this book but it also traumatized my soul. I need the sequel sooner rather than later. I’m sure this a book that I will periodically think about and say, when is the next one coming. Is it time yet?
So if you are someone who is afraid of books with too much hype then I say ignore that. It was excellent and definite deserves the accolades.
The Audio book is narrated by Justine Eyre and at first I was put off a bit by the accents but the more I listened the more I really enjoyed Justine’s narration. She did a fantastic job of capturing all the characters and I think that when I read the future books I will hear her voice for Kestrel in my head. Even Arin’s is pretty decent.