Book Review: The Winner’s Curse

Book Review: The Winner’s CurseThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 368
Published by A&C Black on 2014-04-10
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Kestrel lives the lavish lifestyle of a Valorian General s only daughter, and such riches come at a cost for Valoria s captives and for her. As the Herrani face death or slavery, Kestrel s destiny is shaped by her father. He gives her two choices: join his army or get married. Desperate to realise her own future and knowing that it will invite scandal, she pays a small fortune for a handsome Herrani blacksmith at a slave auction. Arin not only plays Kestrel s power games, he understands what she needs and soon she is torn between loyalty to her people and her feelings for him. But Arin is not all he seems and Kestrel will learn that the price she paid for him is much higher than she ever could have imagined. The first novel in a stunning new trilogy, The Winner s Curse is a story of romance, rumours and rebellion, where dirty secrets and careless alliances can be deadly and everything is at stake.
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This is one of my favorite genres. It sort of fits in the Shadow and Bone, Throne of Glass vein. I was intrigued by the idea that the story is about a girl who BUYS the main guy character as a slave. I knew that it had to be good.

Ok, that sounded weird. I think I just saw so many exciting possibilities that were pretty unique for the genre. This book has it all: military strategy, romance, balls, war, music…and I loved the main characters. Kestral is the army General’s daughter, and in their society, women either get married or join the army at 20 (don’t quote me on that age). Not great choices if, like, Kestral, you don’t really have anyone you want to marry and you are more interested in mastering the piano than mastering a sword. She does have a brilliant mind for strategy however, which serves her well in this book, but it also causes her father to pressure her into joining the army.

After a long time of completely ignoring him, Kestral finally starts spending time with her new slave, Arin. They are not best friends right away. It takes many games of Bite and Sting, where the winner gets to ask the loser any question they want, and many outings where Arin acts as Kestral’s escort for the two to become close. And then something happens to rip them apart again.

Ah yes, this book is quite the roller coaster. Kestral somehow manages to manipulate not one ruler, but two to do her bidding, although she has to pay to get some of what she wants. That’s part of what makes the sequel so enticing. The ending was painful, although not quite cliffhanger painful. No one is literally hanging off the side of a cliff, waiting to see if they die or not. But we are left with a rather tense and unsatisfying ending, one which will cause a lot of problems in the sequel.

I thought The Winner’s Curse was paced incredibly well and in a very believable manner. The POV switches between characters, so you get information from both sides that the other is lacking, which of course, mounts even more tension as the story progresses. Kestral has to go from being reserved and curious to cold and calculating rather quickly, which is a sad transition to watch, but very necessary for her survival. Seeing Arin go from sullen slave to powerful leader was…well…hot.

Great for fans of Shadow and Bone, Throne of Glass, Poison Study.

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