Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Summary: 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. (Via Goodreads.)
The Winner’s Curse was very different to what I expected. When I hear fantasy, I expect magic and dragons and witches but there was none of that in the Winner’s Curse, the focus was far more on political intrigue and it was extremely refreshing and exciting and I loved it.
Kestrel is a terrific protagonist. She is very different from what I am used to seeing in a fantasy type novel – where the girl is always trained physically and usually excels in that field, Kestrel is an average fighter with no particular affinity for it, her real skill lies in her cunning and her mind. She is strategic and smart and manipulative, not just a cog in the machine – she’s the one who tells the machine what to do. She was so wonderful and extremely refreshing to read about and I am very excited to read more about her.
Likewise Arin was fascinating – mostly for his similarities to Kestrel and then the striking differences. It was really interesting to watch them play off each other, each one having a sense of what the other was thinking or that they were hiding something. It’s a very intriguing relationship but I must admit that I wasn’t too captivated by their romance. I did enjoy it, I thought it was nice and all but it certainly didn’t have me flailing – however I know that by the second book I’m going to be hopelessly in love with them.
Everything about the book was interesting; from the world building to the relationships to the rules of society and it is definitely a book I would recommend to people who like fantasy, or are new to fantasy, and historical fiction however it was not quite a Four Star book for me due to my inability to really invest in Kestrel and Arin’s romantic relationship which is a very important aspect of the book. So, it’s more of a 3.75.
Still, really enjoyed it and overall would suggest picking it up. A very easy, very interesting read.