Book Review: The Winner's Curse (Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Seventeen-year-old Kestrel is an aristocratic citizen of Valoria, a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Here, a girl like Kestrel has two choices: join the military or get married. Despite her skills in military strategy, Kestrel’s real passion is music. Which is why she feels compelled to buy Arin, a slave with a talent for singing, at auction. It’s not long before she finds herself falling in love with Arin, and he seems to feel the same for her. But Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for Arin is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Release Date: March 4, 2014
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli

I don't always read high fantasy, but when I do, I like to read outstanding high fantasy, like The Winner's Curse.  This book embodied everything I love about the genre: a thrilling plot, a diverse and well-developed cast of characters, and a unique and interesting world.

Kestrel's problem is not an unusual one: she's at the precipice of adulthood and has to decide which direction her life will take.  The issue is: she doesn't want to join the military or get married.  Kestrel is an accomplished pianist and wants to be free to pursue her music.  Neither option available to her will allow her to continue to play the piano.

Kestrel's life gets interesting quickly when she purchases a slave in the city's market.  She's never done such a thing, and her purchase is certainly an impulse, one she can't really explain or understand.  Arin, the slave, has a talent for singing, although he won't sing for Kestrel.  The two become friends, and there are rumors around high society that there is something more going on between them.

The premise of the two warring factions: the Herrani and the Volarians, juxtaposed with the love story between a Volarian girl and and Herrani slave, made for such a thrilling read.  I found myself torn as to which way I wanted the war between the two peoples to go.  I was just as torn with regards to the love story: while I wanted love to prevail I knew the situation deemed it impossible.

The Winner's Curse was full of surprises.  I never quite knew what to expect next, and the characters continually surprised me.  Kestrel was such a strong, smart, cunning lead character and I loved that about her.  I despise a weak female main character and revel in reading about strong young women.  Rutkoski's prose was descriptive and perfectly suited to the story.  The imagery was beautifully done and added a lot of depth to the book.  

The one thing I didn't love about The Winner's Curse was the abruptness of the ending. The book just....stopped.  I am so glad that this is the first book in a series, and not a stand-alone novel, because the story felt far from finished, at least for me.

I really enjoyed The Winner's Curse and would recommend it to fans of the fantasy genre.  I'm looking forward to reading more from Marie Rutkoski!


1 comment:

  1. Everyone seems to be raving about this book. I really need to pick it up. Glad it worked for you as well!


Word verification stinks--- but spammers are worse. Thank you for your patience!