The Winner’s Curse. Marie Rutkoski. Fantasy/Young adult. 2014. 355 pages. 5 stars.
“Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”
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
I received a copy of The Winner’s Curse for my 16th birthday—almost 2 years ago—from Kyra! It stayed in my shelf for a while and I finally got around to reading it a few months ago.
After reading this I wondered why it took me so long! It was so good. Almost everything I wanted in a fantasy book was in The Winner’s Curse. The plot was predictable, but the characters were not. Kestrel was a strong female character but unlike most fantasy leads, she was not skilled in combat and being the general’s daughter, this was a big problem. What she lacked in combat, she compensated in intuition. I can’t tell you enough how spot on Kestrel’s intuition is. It made the story super interesting because it was like she was voicing out my thoughts in the book. If you ask me, Kestrel is by far my favorite female lead in all the fantasy books I’ve read.
Arin was another interesting character and love interest. He was headstrong but masked it very well by keeping quiet and averting eye contact to avoid drawing too much attention to himself. Watching him interact with Kestrel made me feel so mushy even at the very beginning because you can feel the tension building up between them because they come from rivaling countries. Both characters are stubborn and surprisingly act to protect the other, despite them saying otherwise.
The book does tackle a sensitive issue regarding slavery and we get to see both sides of master and slave from Kestrel’s and Arin’s different and clashing POVs.
If you’re a fan of fantasy books with political conflict mixed with an epic romance, The Winner’s Curse is for you.