Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Goodreads 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.

Publication Date: March 4, 2014

I’m really torn over how I feel about this book and I definitely think it has to do with a mix of the novel being super hyped and my personal reading preferences. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book a lot, but it took me a while to get into it.

The setup was intriguing: a fantasy setting where two people from warring nations find love. Kestrel is a general’s daughter and Arin is the slave she purchases at auction. The romance is slow building and sweet and the author has a wonderful way of invoking emotions with her words. The writing was exceptional in the book and I really felt like I could picture the world in my head.

Kestrel was interesting and the author made it easy to see Kestrel’s two sides at war with one another. She has a lot of expectations placed on her because of her father, but she also empathizes with the plight of the slaves. Arin was a little bland to me and I guess I was expecting to read about the horrors of his enslavement. Obviously, slavery is horrible no matter how it happens, but the lack of urgency of his plight took away from some of the tension. And despite Kestrel being the slave owner, Arin bosses her around and she gives in every single time. It was just a strange dynamic from what I was expecting.

The book was slow for me in the beginning and this is definitely where my personal reading preferences come into play. Some readers won’t mind the pages and pages depicting balls, card games, fancy gowns, etc. But to hold my attention, I need more conflict. Luckily, the second half picked up and I was able to find myself getting further invested.

However, despite it all, I am a fan of the author’s works. I read The Shadow Society by her last year and honestly I liked that book more than this one. I’ll continue the series because after the ending there’s no possible way readers can’t.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel for review!


  1. Sounds like a great read, and I can't wait to try it, but will remember beginning is a little slow.

  2. Fabulous review! I feel the exact same way about "fluff" in a novel. I tend to skim over it or my eyes go glazed as I read (never a good thing). But I write with very little filler in my novels and get dinged for it pretty often :) To each his own, I suppose. Very nicely reviewed, Heather. WRITE ON!

  3. Thank you for the warning about a slower start, it's good to know in advance. I can't wait to give this one a try, I just got it from the library. I've heard so many good things.