A tale of crime, passion, and rebellion, woven together into a dazzling, shining, dystopian.
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.
“Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”
For once, a YA book without a love triangle, how refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good love triangle. I mean, Peeta, Katniss, and Gale, Clary, Jace, and Simon, Tessa, Will and Jem, are all phenomenal triangles, just to name a few. I actually really valued the directness of this couple. It was clear from the beginning that they were meant to be together. Marie Rutkoski still managed to bring the angst, and lots of it.
Oh man, mystery, intrigue, slavery, parties, this book was great. It focuses on a girl of about 17, named Kestrel. Kestrel is the daughter of her countries greatest war general, and she is quite wealthy because of it. She only has her father, as her mother died when she was young. Her father looks down upon her because she does not want to be a warrior. Kestrel’s true strengths are in stratagem and her piano. She has a mind for concertos and concise calculations.
Our story truly starts when Kestrel is in the market one day, and the auction catches her eye, more accurately, one slave catches her eye. His name is Arin, and he is touted as a blacksmith and a singer. Kestrel bids and wins, paying the so called, Winner’s Curse. She paid more money than anyone else valued him worthy. Thus their journey begins. . .
“He knew the law of such things: people in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.”
My two favorite things about this book were the original plot line, and the lovely characters. I’m a sucker for a strong male lead, what can I say? Can I just mention how amazing this writing is, by the way? Marie Rutkoski has an exceptional gift for storytelling. Her writing is so beautiful, the prose is practically poetry that most people actually want to read.
Oh, this world. Valoria, Herran, no matter, it’s all beautiful. The Winner’s Curse is a historical piece, and I can’t really say which time period for sure, as it’s also a dystopian, I would have to say around the Victorian Era. I love this time period, it is my favorite, the parties, the etiquette, the horse drawn carriages. It’s a simpler time, and I’m officially obsessed.
The plot of this book felt new for me. It featured a wonderful romance that unfolds beautifully throughout the novel. I would say that it one of, if not the, biggest points of the entire story. The book as far as I can tell focused on Kestrel and Arin’s paradigm, their relationship, and the political plot took a backseat. The secondary plot in this book was good too. It was rich and complex, but I could still follow along, so that was great.
One of the over arching themes was deceit. These two were constantly dealing in lies. To each other, to themselves, to everybody around them. You’re never really quite sure whether what they say, when they say it, is truth or fiction, and that was an interesting, and important piece in this story.
“The truth can deceive as well as a lie.”
Ah, my favorite part. I do love a good male lead. They really make the story for me. Arin is one of the best I’ve read in awhile. He’s strong, smart, a great actor, determined, and is resilient. He’s been through a lot, but he doesn’t let it outwardly show. Also, he is a great singer, does it get any better?
Next we have Miss Kestrel Trajan. An exceptional heroine to match the equally exceptional Mister Arin. She’s whip-smart and knows how to use her brain. She is a fantastic strategist, as well as a pianist. She can wield a weapon and cut just as deeply as with her mind. She’s got passion to spare and doesn’t give up easily. Don’t mess with this girl, lest you have to deal with the consequences.
This book kept me on my toes, and I enjoyed every wonderful minute. The characters, story, writing, and period all come together to create this magical, exciting, star-crossed novel. I give this book a four out of five stars.