The Winner’s Curse

The Winner’s Curse

by Marie Rutkoski


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.

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Book #1 in Series

ApCk8hT2I was lucky to receive this book, a thing that made me really happy, as I’ve had my eyes on it for a while based on my tiny crush on the gorgeous cover. I started reading it the very moment I got my hands on it (or well, on my kindle, but who needs so many details?) and the prose was so beautiful that I simply couldn’t put it down – and don’t you love it when that happens? It is the best feeling in the world!

“The Winner’s Curse” started really, really great. I liked both Kestrel and Arin (alternative POV works almost every time with me), I liked the premise of how they met and how they started to trust each other, to connect a bit through the music.

Character development is really important to me and those two were very well defined, showing us both their strong side and their insecurities. They came from opposite worlds, one ruined by the other, and there were many feelings thrown in the middle: anger, fear, shame, confusion, but also curiosity, tenderness. The beginning of their relationship was slow, it took time to build, and that’s the part I liked the most. They both made mistakes, their relationship was hot and cold but they were both lovely. And what’s more important, they both believed that one simply has to do what is right, no matter the consequences.
Also the side characters had a lot to say – some were there to stay, some will come back in the next book, some just left an imprint on our characters’ lives and hearts.

kestrelEven though the pacing was slow at first (which is by no accounts a bad thing), the second half of the story was full of action and turnarounds. It really keeps you interested, on the edge of the seat and, to be honest, I can’t wait to see what happens next. I love it when a book leaves you in a place from where you can go practically anywhere. And the thing is that the world was beautifully built, so that it makes me eager to revisit those places, those characters and to see how the final moments have affected them all.

This being said, the book had everything I usually love: wonderful characters, beautiful prose, entertaining (even edge gripping) plot, great world building, beautiful cover… Still, I think you’ve seen that ‘but’ coming from a mile away, haven’t you?

Taken piece by piece this book was amazing, I am sure many of you will love it, it’s just that together those pieces didn’t seem to fit so well in my mind or heart. There were 2 things that bugged me and I couldn’t get past them no matter what:

1. I can’t put my finger on it, but something was missing in the relationship development.

Kestrel and Arin did connect at some level, they became friends of sorts, playing games and both being passionate about music. But then, in the second half there was supposed to be what felt like a sudden big attraction between them, they were supposed to care a lot one for the other, and I think I missed the very moment when they crossed that bridge (they were almost there, I could feel it, but I just missed when it actually happened).

auctionMild spoiler: show

even though there’s no actual revealing involved, just hints of it.

2. Then there’s that ending which was too convenient for my liking and also rushed. Tons of things happened at once, but half of them I didn’t get or I just had to force myself into believing. As well defined as the characters were, their actions were a bit random and I was left with the question “why?”.
And then there’s this thing… some people (especially Kestrel) use words as weapons in this book, which is fine with me, but at times it didn’t take too much convincing to do… And that just felt unrealistic (not to mention convenient).

I call this type of story ‘historical-fantasy’, I like the sound of it and I have many favourites in this genre.
Rating aside, this is a good start for the series. I will definitely pick up the next book when it comes out, as I can’t wait to see where this is headed.

So… do I recommend it?
Yes I do, in fact I know it will be a 5 stars reading for many of my book friends, I am just picky like this some times.

Happy midnight reading!

Early review: ARC received for review from the publisher, thank you!

Book Trailer:

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2 responses to “The Winner’s Curse”

  1. I don’t like it when the ending is too convenient and has a lot of unanswered questions but we’ll probably get our answers to those questions in the following books, yes? The blurb really interests me that’s why I’m so eager to read this. 😀
    – Farzy @ Books Keep Me Sane

    • Ari says:

      For sure we will find a lot more in the next books.
      You know how it is, some stories work for one, some not just as much, it depends also on other books one has been reading in the same time.
      This one promises a lot and I really hope that you will enjoy it a lot better 😉

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