Title: The Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Winner’s Trilogy (Book 1)
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
ISBN-10: 0374384673 (Mac Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0374384678 (Mac Teen)
Reviewed by: Kaitlin
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.
Quick and Dirty: The Winner’s Curse is a beautiful, amazing novel that is officially one of my favorites of 2013. There is no doubt that I will be picking up the second book!
Opening Sentence: She shouldn’t have been tempted.
The Winner’s Curse is the story of Kestrel, daughter of a famous general, who lives in the captured city of Herran. Hellani people used to flourish on their streets, and in their houses, but now the Hellani are enslaved by the Valorian in places that were once their homes. Kestrel and her friend Jess find themselves in a slave market one day, and Kestrel buys a slave for an obnoxious price, a blacksmith that she has to admit is very handsome. Little does she know that as they fall for each other, Arin is feeding information to the Hellani rebellion…
I’m conflicted about whether I like Arin’s character. Not because he’s a bad character, but because he sometimes makes me so angry, and he sometimes makes me so sad. He makes my emotions whirl, which I guess means that Rutkoski is doing something right, since I do get so strongly affected by his words and actions. Kestrel, on the other hand, I decidedly like. The poor thing wants to stay true to her people, but also her heart, and is having trouble doing either as the present times wage on.
I actually love the title – The Winner’s Curse – because it’s such a unique title, and yet symbolizes pretty much the whole plotline. The winner’s curse is when the buyer wins something in an auction, therefore getting what they desire, but also suffering the consequences of paying a very high price. Kestrel gets what she wants, and does not regret bidding, but suffers the consequences the whole book through, even as she falls in love.
The plotline was brilliant. Although most of the book wasn’t very full of action, it was paced in a way that I never got bored. About 2/3 of the novel isn’t full of much action, tension builds and the last 1/3 is just explosive, pulse-racing, and full of conflict. I really enjoyed the whole story, but definitely the last 1/3 was my favorite. It made me want to cry, and I felt the same indecisiveness that Kestrel was feeling at the time. Usually I have a path I want the character to take, and I support it start to end. I let Kestrel decide her path and I was just along for the ride, this time. Obviously the author is a fabulous storyteller.
This one kept me up all night thinking, and I read it when I should have been asleep. I think I’ve found another of my Favorite New Reads of 2013 book- probably the last, considering 2014 is just around the corner. Fans of romance or fantasy kingdoms might as well buy this, because you don’t want to miss this. A fabulous novel with a stunning ending, The Winner’s Curse is amazing. Bravo!
Kestrel’s mouth found his. His lips were salted with her tears, and the taste of that, of him, of their deepening kiss filled her with the feeling of his quiet laugh moments ago. Of a wild softness, a soft wildness. In his hands, running up her thin dress. In his heat, burning through to her skin . . . and into her, sinking into him.
1. The Winner’s Curse (March 4, 2014)
FTC Advisory: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Winner’s Curse. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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