Title: the Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
My Rating: 5 out of 5 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. (Goodreads)
Wow, this is definitely my new favorite series. No doubt. I am actually kicking myself that I hadn’t found this book sooner. But on the other hand, I’m glad because I don’t have to wait for the next book to come out. I only have to wait two weeks until the second and third book get to me by mail, which is also waaay too long. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep away from spoilers for that long. I neeeeed to know what happens next!
I absolutely flew through this novel. It hooked me after two pages, after that I just couldn’t put it down. To start, the world-building in this novel was excellent. I understood and was intrigued by the whole concept. In this world, there are two communities, the Valorians and the Herrani’s. The Valorians took over the Herrani country ten years ago and have since then made the Herrani’s their slaves. The book follows our two main characters, Kestrel, a Valorian and Arin, a Herrani. Kestrel buys Arin at a slave auction and is then confronted with a developing friendship and the consequences thereof.
The romance in this novel was built up to very well, there is in no way instalove, which if perfect. The way Kestrel and Arin communicate with each other feels very real. The rise of the Herrani people in the novel also completely flipped the dynamics of the relationship which gave the book a whole other dimension. This is not a simple fantasy romance novel, it has so many political and social aspects which really intrigued me.
I love Kestrel’s character. In most novels the lead protagonist is a badass fighting machine and can kick any man’s butt. But I loved that in this novel Kestrel was a smartass. It felt very realistic and comforting to me that a woman can also beat many men by using her wits instead of violence.
Finally, this novel has one of the best plot twists that I have ever read. I just did not see that coming in any way and after I had put the book down I was just flabbergasted. I loved what Rutkoski did and I am so curious as to how this is going to play out in the second novel. But I am of course so routing for Kestrel and Arin. Anyway, I hope the books come in the mail super soon and I can marathon the rest of this series. I just really want to know what happens and how the story ends.
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and I honestly believe it deserves 6 out of 5 stars. I loved it and I cannot wait to read the next books in the Winner’s trilogy.