RELEASE: MARCH. 4, 2014
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.
When I first began reading The Winner's Curse, I was under the impression that it would be a sweeping and epic fantasy. I don't know where I got this impression, but this was not quite the book I was expecting to read.
Regardless of my expectations, though, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. No, this book isn't exactly fantasy. There is no magic (as far as we know of in the first book), but we do get introduced to world that's shaped by slavery and military conquests. The book alternates from the perspective of two characters: a general's daughter and a slave.
Kestrel, the general's daughter, has grown up all her life knowing she will have to choose between marriage and a military life. Neither option is appealing, because she has no interest in military and has no desire to marry a man she does not love. Her true passion is music, and so, she impulsively purchases the slave Arin when she told he can sing.
By purchasing Arin, though, Kestrel gets more than she bargained for. And she discovers things about her self, and about the world, that shape Kestrel into the strong and self assured women at the end of this book. It's the first book in a series, though, so her growth is not yet complete. I found Kestrel extremely relatable, in her struggle between duty and her own desires. She may not be the strongest fighter, but I believe Kestrel has a great deal of inner strength. And she does have a brain for military strategy, when she's willing to follow through.
Arin, on the other hand, is far more complex. He still remains a mystery to me, and I think that is a part of his charm. I can't say that I adored the romance, but I can appreciate that it wasn't instalove. It wasn't until the very end, that I managed to care about the two as a couple. But of course they cannot be together, their situations are vastly different and society would not allow it. This is what makes the romance interesting, I think.
Marie's writing was also very lyrical, but easy to comprehend. There was easy flow, and I have to admit I became more and more addicted as I continued to read. I don't think that I adored it, like most people, but I will not hesitate to recommend this book to fellow readers and I will most certainly be picking up the sequel (because that ending was killer)! This series has the potential to be huge and epic. I look forward to seeing what happens next.