The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

The Winner’s Trilogy #1
Published March 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
368 pages
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Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Series: The Winner’s Curse | TBA
Source: Publisher
Rating: LOVED

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. (Source: Goodreads)

I was immediately enthralled by its familiar historical feel. With talk of Empire, Barbarians and Slaves, I built my foundational world in Rome. But I was drawn into the story with a desire to find out more about Kestrel and the slave, Arin.

Kestrel has a gift for strategy. She is smart, intuitive and confident. Her father longs for her to join him in the military, but she’d rather use her gift for gambling in the market. The problem is in a world where women can go into the military, their only other option is marriage. You learn very quickly that Kestrel isn’t typical nor does she care for limited options. She continues to try her father’s patience and snub society with her love of music. Her outlet his playing the piano. The problem is that music is to be enjoyed, taken, but producing is left to slaves.

She sees a similar defiance in Arin, a slave at the auction. Something in her makes her want to know him, to find out why he holds himself proudly. I could feel the ache Arin had for his former life, life before the Valorians conquered his people. And even worse, he starts to witness Kestrel for the woman she is. It gets complicated and that is an understatement.

RUTKOSKI‘s writing is beautiful. I was completely mesmerized and swept away into Kestrel’s world. The  building romance and subsequent dilemma played me like a violin. I couldn’t put down the book. It is a story of sacrifice and survival, but at what costs. There is no doubt Kestrel has the WINNER’S CURSE. When I closed the back cover, I stood there with her assessing her choices, her strategy, her heart, and didn’t know what costs were worth the price of winning.

THE WINNER’S CURSE hasn’t even hit stores yet and it is already too long of a wait for the sequel. The storytelling is beautiful, mature and rich. Even with its familiar feel, it was never predictable. Every action felt organic and in keeping with the character and flow of the story. There really aren’t words to express how much I LOVED this book. I need MORE! *stamps feet*

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8 responses to “The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

  1. I just bought this so I’m happy to hear you loved it! The writing just sounds amazing – I’ll have to put this on the top of my digital stack. Your last paragraph is killing me — the anticipation!

  2. As soon as I read your review I went to check for the audio, and I’m so happy I found it, but it only had one review :( 1 star.. I know Justine Eyre takes some getting use to, but 1 star? I’m going with your review and taking a shot that she’s not horrible (the narrator) and ruined a good book…She’s not that bad. I find it hard to trust reviews on audible sometimes. I like what you had to say about the story.

  3. YAY! I’m so glad that you loved it too. I thought this was done so well and there were places I wanted just a little bit more in the beginning but boy did those things deliver in the second half! WHEW!

  4. Everyone is raving about this one right now. I think I’m going to try to get a copy once it does release but waiting for those sequels to finally release kill you with impatience.

    Thanks for the great review!

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