Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publication Date: March 4,2014
Rating: 4 Stars
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. - Summary from Goodreads
It is difficult to identify The Winner’s Curse’s genre, it’s not clear what it is. It does take place in a world that is not our own, but there is no addition of magic or the supernatural, nor does it resemble a dystopian, it just is what it is. The world was well built and reminded me a bit of the Victorian era with all of its rules and ideas of propriety. Losing one’s reputation or honor is as bad as losing one’s life. In this world it is expected that a woman either marries or joins the military by a certain age, while those rules of society seem contradictory it works for it and provides plenty of trouble because Kestral does not wish to do either anytime soon.
Kestral has made it onto my list of favorite characters. She is not a great fighter, but she is an amazing strategist and she proves multiple times in this book that the power of the mind can be just as deadly as a sword. It is so refreshing to have a heroine who not only has intelligence, but uses it on a regular basis.
Arin and Kestral’s relationship is not insta-love, which I appreciate, it is more like mutual affection and friendship which both characters would both rather do without. I didn’t really connect with Arin and part of me couldn’t get behind the romance, but the romance comes second to the story so it’s not really a big deal. The romance is another way to build up tension and drama, and it does it well.
Oh my goodness, this book has plenty of drama! Don’t worry, it is the good sort of drama. The sort of drama that has you reading as fast as you can just so you can find out what is going to happen next. I could just feel Kestral and Arin’s turmoil as they did things that they could never take back even if they wanted to. And that ending! I’m so excited to see where the next book goes. I actually believe that the next book is going to be even better than its predecessor.-Christina