The Winner’s Curse

February 12, 2014 ARC, Book Review 3

The Winner’s Curse

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Pages: 368
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy, book one
Source: ARC per request

About the Book: 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 Thoughts: Awestruck. That’s how I felt when I finished this book. See also: heartbroken and completely tied up in knots! I read it in one sitting, not stopping to eat, answer my phone, or anything. I was just so caught up in the story. 

This is a tale that really builds to a staggering crescendo. The world building is woven into the telling of the story from the beginning. We see little pieces of the society (like the wearing of daggers as part of fashion) and then learn more and more about the history that shaped it as the book progresses. Each revelation adds to the tension and atmosphere, building and building and building. 

The romance was fashioned in a similar way… a slow burn! The narration of the story switches between Kestrel and Arin. Arin is a slave purchased by Kestrel and this clearly complicates any interactions they might have. Both have secrets and reasons to hold the other at arms length. I was pulled in to their story more and more. I loved learning more about them as individual characters, but also, in the ways that they compliment one another. It was basically wonderful.

One last thing I have to mention (before I start going on and on and on about how I love EVERYTHING!) The imagery! Marie Rutkoski’s writing is wonderful all around but there were certain lines that really grabbed me. One example is on page 31: 

“The slave stopped his thoughts. They threatened to plow up his past. He willed his mind to be frosted earth: hard and barren.” 

I love the idea of his mind being frosted earth. At another part Rutkoski mentions that a certain soap, “smelled like memories” which I found to be a perfect description. There are scents from my childhood that totally take me back. I knew exactly what the character was feeling. Small phrases like this took my reading experience from enjoyable to engaging. I was invested in the story and the lives of the characters. I don’t want to give too much detail about the story but I will say it kept my heart racing… in a variety of ways!

The Winner’s Curse is not to be missed. It’s gorgeous and atmospheric. The story pulls you in and takes you on a journey you won’t want to end. As I said, I was awestruck.

3 Responses to “The Winner’s Curse”

  1. The Winner's Crime - YA BibliophileYA Bibliophile

    […] fan of this series. Book one, The Winner’s Curse was one of my very favorites of last year. My review is all sorts of fangirl-y!! I feel the same way about The Winner’s Crime. It’s […]

  2. The Winner's Kiss - YA BibliophileYA Bibliophile

    […] am so incredibly in love with Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Trilogy. The first book, The Winner’s Curse left me completely awestruck. Book two, The Winner’s Crime, is that rare and delightful […]

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