Title: The Winner’s Curse
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5
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.
“The Winner’s Cruse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.”
I’m writing this review having just finished this incredible book. It has been such a long time since any book has completely blown me away like this. I’ve been on a very huge fantasy kick this year and The Winner’s Trilogy was one of the series at the top of my list. Why did I put off reading it for so long? I’m asking myself that question a lot. I loved the feel of this book. How I could picture it similar to Game of Thrones setting wise. It contained such controversial topics. I was honestly shocked and horrified at times. I absolutely loved how the entire book seemed like a giant grey area though. The saying ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ came to mind constantly.
The characters we so entirely human. Especially the main character. I think she has taken the spot of my top favorite character. Kestrel is so stubborn and strong but she has these flaws and weakness that make her better. In a way I think everyone in the story has something to learn from her even if they’re unwilling to listen. At times she made me so mad but then others I was thinking about the fact that she is so human and relatable and how I admired her. I loved how much of a strategist she was, how she was almost always two steps ahead of everyone else. And Arin. Don’t even get me started on him. I loved him but he also made me mad and then he didn’t because like I said giant grey area. Marie Rutkoski created a story where the line between good and bad is so blurred that not one character was seemingly more flawed than the other but that every character was just trying to survive and strive. Trying to change things. Even if the way they went about it was inherently terrible at times. That being said I really did admire Arin as well. He’s such a strong character like Kestrel. The fact that this book has two very strong characters as the main characters is another thing I love about it. Not to say that I’m pushing aside the minor characters, such as Jess who I loved too.
I’m trying to write this in a way where I can praise the amazingness that is Marie Rutkoski’s writing but at the same time not give anything away. She created an incredibly unique world, story, and characters. The detail she gave to the world had me forgetting that I wasn’t there in the story at times because it transported me away to a different world. It’s like how my friends and I used to talk about how we would get so into a book that instead of being just a book it was a movie in our head, this book was that for me. All of that is because of her writing.
Honestly if you’re on a fantasy kick like me, if you enjoy stories where the line of good and bad are blurred, a story with strong characters, a story that has an incredibly unique setting, and one that you’ll never forget then go read this book. I for one am glad I finally decided to.
Now I’m off to start reading The Winner’s Crime! But not before I post a few of my favorite non spoiler quotes from the first book.
“The Herrani would say that the god of lies must love you, you see things so clearly.”
“People in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.”
“I suppose neither of us is the person we believed we would become.”
“If her heart were truly a scroll, she could burn it. It would become a tunnel of flame, a handful of ash. The secrets she had written inside herself would be gone. No one would know.”