Review: The Winner's Curse

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date ~ March 4, 2014
Farrar Straus Giroux ~ Macmillan
ISBN13: 9780374384685
ARC received from Macmillan for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
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.

The cover for The Winner's Curse is pretty (YES, it is) but it doesn't do the story justice at all. This story is, in a few words, devastating, gripping, and thrilling! I haven't stopped thinking about this book since I finished reading it. I've just been pining away for more!

The Winner's Curse is a low fantasy read, ideal for those who like a little bit of political intrigue and a great setting in their books.

  1. Low fantasy at its best:

    I love (all) fantasy books and while I prefer high fantasy, The Winner's Curse is a one of the best low fantasy books I've ever read. (Sidenote: I'm putting The Winner's Curse in the low fantasy category because while it's a fictional world, the way the world works is rational and real and doesn't contain magical or impossible elements). There's less suspension of belief for readers, which is fantastic for readers who are less interested by magic. While the world is fictional there are some aspects which reminded me of other historical settings.
  2. Oh my, swoons!:

    Do you like your romance to be epic?! Pick up The Winner's Curse - trust me. While the romance takes centre stage in this story, it also wasn't sappy or ridiculous. I was absolutely swept away by Arin and Kestrel and I couldn't get enough of these two. Most of all I loved how they tried to figure each other out, but still remained their rational thinking. And the tension just dragged on forever! So much tension that just wouldn't go away and it was brilliant. I liked Kestrel so much - she stood out on her own and had a vivid personality. She was such a clever girl, yet she had her own faults and she had to overcome those and work with it. But overall, Kestrel is an incredibly strong heroine.
  3. An explosive story:

    I couldn't get enough of the politics and culture incorporated in The Winner's Curse. I was enthralled by these little details, and I'm dying to know what happens to this world in the next book. The plot development was my absolute favourite part of this book! It is beautifully written and the story is so captivating. I am dreaming about this book, its characters, and its world. I cannot let it go. I'm in love with it too much.
The characters are flawed which is good, but this also means they aren't instantly likeable. My appreciation for them only grew over time as the story progressed and I was skeptical of Kestrel, in particular, at first. There were also a couple subplots that didn't seem to influence the main plot; maybe they'll come up in later books, but they didn't seem particularly relevant for this book.

The Winner's Curse was one of my favourite books released this year so far. I've rarely felt so invested in a book series before, and I have such high hopes for the next one! The situation Arin and Kestrel are put in is so difficult as they're both forced to question values and beliefs they've held for such a long time - The Winner's Curse is reading for that alone.


Anonymous said...

I'm so excited for this book because all I keep hearing is that this book is seriously swoony (hopefully my expectations aren't too high for this one, now--haha!) and I like how you mentioned that while this is a fantasy book the fantasy elements were believable and made sense. I guess I won't have to go far out of my comfort zone reading this one to make sense of it which is good! Lovely review Esther!
Lily @ Lilysbookblog :)

ChristasBooks said...

I loved this book as well - especially the complex politics! I found the pace really picked up near the end and I'm dying to know what happens next.

Precious said...

Wow, wow, wow. Epic romance and wonderful / believable fantasy?? I'm sold. This is one of my most anticipated books for this year. Thank you for the great review!

-Precious @ Fragments of Life

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