Title: The Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
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.
I’m going to be completely up front and honest. I’m enamored with this book. I want to go out and purchase it (I got my copy through the library), and put it on my shelf with my favorite books and pull it down occasionally just to pet the pretty cover. This story is on a whole different level. The world building is reason enough to pick this story up. I can’t get over the world building. It’s beautiful and lush and so visceral that I got lost in it.
I loved Kestrel. She’s a character that grows to stand on her own, and not in the shadow of her father or her friends. She is smart and strong, almost sneaky at times. She’s a great character who wormed her way into my heart. I love her interactions with Arin and the shift in their relationship as the story progresses. Speaking of Arin–I’m still on the fence about him. I figured out what his ‘secret’ was pretty early on in the story, but even that didn’t detract from anything.
“A kestrel is a hunting hawk.”
“Yes. The perfect name for a warrior girl.”
“Well.” His smile was slight, but it was there. “I suppose neither of us is the person we were believed we would become.”
The prose in this story is simply amazing. It’s so beautiful and sets up for an epic story. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book. It ends rather abruptly, and I might have thrown a temper tantrum realizing that I won’t get the next book for a while. Somehow I’ll manage. There is romance in this story, but it’s a slow build, and while there is another man who hopes for Kestrel’s attention, it’s obvious who holds her heart. While it slowly builds, the intensity between Arin and Kestrel is tangible. It burns off the pages and takes over everything. It shouldn’t happen, and it does, and the results– are complicated. They save each other from the world, but sometimes that’s not the best thing for them to do.
Overall: The first half of this book was good, but it’s the second half of the book and the political plot that comes to fruition that really sold me. It’s brilliant, and unexpected and just mind blowing.