Farrar Straus Giroux
March 4, 2014
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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.
The Winner's Curse was one that I wasn't sure I was going to review. After finishing the book, I was not sure enough how I felt about it.
The fantasy world created in The Winner's Curse is very well done. The society, the conquering empire and how the two peoples now exist, worked well. The where was imagined and the when was indeterminable. While it was not modern day, it was difficult (in such a good way), if not impossible to place it into any known time. It really takes readers to a completely new time and place.
The romance was less a part of the story than I had expected based on the book blurb, but I actually liked that. The adversarial relationship Kestrel and Arin have based just on their relationship of slave and slave owner was expected but different than anticipated.
Kestrel would not have been a sympathetic character, nor would the rest of the tale have been possible, if she was unforgiving and cruel towards Arin. Yet, for her to try for BFF's would not have fit, either.
Their relationship, the dynamics presented by their roles did leave me slightly uncomfortable. Neither seems to truly fit into their role - even their playing at it did not always fit with their world.
While the romance did not yet work for me (there are two more books), once more was revealed about the characters, to both the reader and the other character, the story really pulled me in. After things were established, the characters introduced, and their relationship - even with the lies - started, it was a very compelling story.
How the history of the different peoples, the characters' own pasts, and what was currently happening came together was fantastic.
While I was not always sure about The Winner's Curse, where things were going and how the characters were behaving, it is a book I couldn't put down (or, rather, couldn't stop listening to) and one I couldn't stop thinking about after finishing it. I really cannot wait to read Book 2, The Winner's Crime.
I listened to most of The Winner's Curse as an audiobook (I read some of the beginning) and it was one I highly recommend. The narrator, Justine Eyre, does a great job and hearing the different names (Arin is R-in, for example) pronounced properly really enhances the story. You stay more immersed in the story when you're having it told to you. With tales like The Winner's Curse, especially, you don't have to guess at names or places and instead are taken into Kestrel's world. I recommend the book and suggest listening to it if possible.
an arc was received from the publisher, thank you