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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
So I’m pretty late to the party.
About six to seven months ago, about a month or two months before THE WINNER’S CURSE released, the buzz for this book started up. It only got stronger as the release date approached. And when I say buzz, I mean
I knew that I HAD to get my hands on this book, because ever since the book released I’ve never seen a review from a blogger than I respect that says this book isn’t worth reading. And fantasy is my favorite genre, so, you know. There was that.
And I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t already, you NEED to read this book.
There are so many things that were just spot on, pitch perfect about this story. The elements of it all come together to make it all come to life, and stories like these begin and end with amazing characters–so that’s where I’ll start.
None of the characters in THE WINNER’S CURSE are perfect. They’re flawed. Kestrel and Arin especially. So many of the things they want, they need, and a lot of the time they’re not even sure what they want, come with conflicts and consequences. They’re constantly in a state of gaining something and losing anther, and that is what this whole story is about.
Kestrel has her own set of shortcomings. Sometimes she’s naive and blinded by what she wants, but she’s also skilled and willing to make sacrifices. Instead of trying to blind herself of the fact that she’s not a fighter, she turns the situation to her advantage in clever ways. She’s one of the most smart, clever heroines that I’ve ever read–and that’s saying something. She isn’t a weak character in any way, and I admire her strength in a way very similar to Hermione’s.
When it comes to Arin, I really enjoyed his tactility as well. I could sympathize with both sides of the war and pitting Kestrel against Arin was a lot of fun. Arin can go toe to toe with Kestrel, which I enjoyed seeing. The way they go back and forth with their plans and reactions is awesome and very entertaining. The political aspects to this story were lit up mostly because of Arin, and his position as a strategist in THE WINNER’S CURSE is entirely deserved.
As the story goes on, both of these characters, as well as all the characters and even the supporting characters, are people that I came to love and hate. The villains are more than just evil and the heroes are more than just good. The complexity and simplicity behind the world that Rutkoski has made is nothing less than beautiful. It isn’t traditional fantasy, but more of a historical-fantasy kind of feel. I loved seeing all of the elements come together from different influences. I do hope to see more of the world in the next stories. The backstory is also very well crafted.
When it comes to the plot, I wasn’t bored for a second in this story. The pace has highs and lows, but it never drags or grows old. The main points to this story are highlighted excellently and the action/fast paced scenes don’t sacrifice any detail.
Then there’s the romance.
I guess at the heart of this story, it’s a romance. It’s a political historical fantasy romance about slaves, but really–it’s so much more than that in the way that THE HUNGER GAMES is not just about kids who are supposed to kill each other. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is not just about kids that fall in love that have cancer. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY is not just a story that a girl who killed herself. THE WINNER’S CURSE could very likely become one of my five star books.
The romance is definitely an underlying tone to this story, but it’s not rushed at all. Even though Kestrel and Arin both love each other, their love doesn’t get in the way of what they both know is true and the things that they know that they have to do. Kestrel and Arin both go through with their own duties, for the greater good.
I have to say that sometimes it’s not always a good thing when you love all the characters (or love to hate them) because there’s still the issue of certain characters who don’t get what they want, and you know that they will never get what they want. For example, Ronan in this story. I do hope that he eventually finds his own happiness and is able to reconcile with Kestrel so that they can be friends again.
It’s things like these that I hope to see resolved in the books to come, but overall–this story is AMAZING and you need to read it. There were so many things I loved about how the story was crafted, the plot, the characters, the ideas, the premise, and there’s so many other things that I could say about this book, but I’ll tie up here and say I LOVED IT. 4.5 stars.
pg count for the ebook: 355
series: The Winner’s Trilogy