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.
(Summary from GoodReads)
Because so many of my friends had raved about The Winner’s Curse, I had pretty high expectations going in. Even with my high expectations, I was still enchanted by everything about The Winner’s Curse.
This novel is set in a vivid, fascinating world that transported me back to ancient Rome or a similar civilization. A lot of research clearly went into making sure the small nuances of this world were right, yet it still felt as though it stood on its own. I loved every minute I spent there—the description of the clothes, the food, the land and what people did every day. Rutkoski even went so far as to create different people and a backstory for them.
The plot of this story is amazing. There’s political intrigue, duels, and romance. It’s enough to keep you turning the page late into the night. All of these elements are expertly intertwined. The romance in this story was heart wrenching and swoony and wonderful. I loved how Arin was often humorous in a very quiet way, and I adored how he handled his relationship with Krestel in the second half of the book.
The Winner’s Curse is also about right and wrong . I loved how none of the characters’ actions were written as being black or white. There’s an extra layer, that something that makes you think and realize how complex everything is, and it’s part of what makes The Winner’s Curse stands out among other books in its genre. That said, neither Kestrel nor Arin are simple characters. They are intelligent, layered, humans and I know their stories are only going to get better as this series goes on.
Perhaps my favorite part of The Winner’s Curse was the prose. I flagged page after page as having passages that were gorgeously written. Rutkoski uses similes and metaphors beautifully without ever making her writing feel overdone.
The Winner’s Curse is a story that I am going to reread over and over and over again. I want to revisit this world and Rutkoski’s lush writing because they just utterly captivated me. I cannot wait to add a hardcover of this one and the books that will follow to my shelves.
Disclosure: I received a galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review, but I also plan to buy a hardcover.
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