The Winner's Curse
Summary: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.
Almost reading a bit more like a historical fiction novel with a hint of fantasy elements than a straightforward fantasy novel, The Winner’s Curse is a fine addition to the YA fantasy genre; and excels where some novels – Shadow and Bone and Throne of Glass respectively – have – in my opinion – failed.
Even though the excessive amount of hype it has been receiving has certainly made me a bit cautious, The Winner’s Curse definitely delivered and even possibly surpassed the hype in my opinion.
Set in a world where the Herran have been conquered by the Valorian and subjected to slavery, our story follows 17-year-old Kestrel – the daughter of the famous and prestigious General Trajan. Kestrel isn’t too optimistic about her future, which basically involves her choosing between becoming a soldier in the military or marrying – two things that Kestrel despises.
But when you are faced with only two choices— the military or marriage—don’t you wonder if there is a third, or a fourth, or more, even, than that?
But one day Kestrel and her best friend go to a slave auction, where, without thinking of the consequences, Kestrel buys a slave. Independent and observant, Kestrel’s new slave Arin intrigues her, and soon she finds herself going out of her way to be with him. But with such different backgrounds, is a future together even a possibility?
Kestrel is a brilliant character, and my emotional connection to her was something that I felt really propelled the story. Kestrel might not have an aptitude for fighting, but she is a strategist through and through. Every move she makes, every word she says, is calculated and well thought-out – and it’s fascinating watching her plot and scheme to get what she wants.
The romance between Kestrel and Arin was beautifully done. It wasn’t instalove, and it didn’t dominate the plot. It was scarce and far between, but when there were romantic scenes between them, they stole my heart.
Marie Rutkoski’s writing is beautiful and really takes the story to the next level. Her eloquence is wonderful, and the musical, lyrical descriptions she writes of everything were just lovely. If you’re a fan of Jodi Lynn Anderson’s writing, Marie Rutkoski has a very similar style.
All in all, I highly recommend this. It’s a lovely, lyrical novel and if you’re a fan of YA fantasy or historical fiction-like novels, you won’t regret picking up The Winner’s Curse. Especially if you’ve been wary of reading it on account of the excessive hype it’s been receiving, I’d say go for it. As for me, I’m without a doubt going to continue the series.
With such a heart-breaking ending, how could I not?