Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse

The Winner's Curse
By Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 4, 2014

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.

My review:

The Winner's Curse is a fantasy novel that has a historical feel. The setting reminded me of the Greek city states in a way with Kestrel's people, the Valorians, as the Spartans and Arin's as the Athenians. Kestrel is expected to join the military and while she is very intelligent and good at figuring out strategy, her heart is on music, something which her father hates. Music is also what draws Kestrel and Arin together in spite of his being her slave and his view of the Valorians. 

Arin's part of the story is what I found most interesting. There is definitely more to him than Kestrel realizes. That is not to say that Kestrel is a boring character. I liked the glimpses of her gift for strategy and I appreciated that she could see things differently than the others of her society. 

I think the story really picks up midway when there is a game-changing twist and I loved the cliffhanger ending. While this book is not like a typical fantasy novel (no magic or mythical creatures) and it almost reads like historical fiction I think that will make it appeal to a far wider audience of readers.  I think readers who liked Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns and Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes will enjoy this. There is suspense, romance, and action and I am eager to see what will happen in the next installment.

Note: I received an ARC of this book for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Amazon Vine


  1. This book has been one of my favorite reads of the year! I would agree that it has a very historical feel to it, which probably has something to do with the fact that the author is also a college history professor. I can't wait to see what happens in book two =)

    Amanda @ Born Bookish

  2. This is actually one of my most anticipated reads for this year! I'm glad to know that you found it interesting. Thanks for the great review!

    Precious @ Fragments of Life

  3. As much as I liked Kestrel, I liked Arin's character more - there really is quite a lot going on with his character.

    Glad you liked this book!


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