The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Goodreads: 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.

Main Characters:

  • Kestrel: Not your typical YA world saving special snowflake. She’s not a warrior, but a musician with awesome strategic abilities.
  • Arin: Typical handsome YA love interest. *yawns*
  • Jess: Kestrel’s best friend.
  • Ronan: Brother of Jess, fancies Kestrel.

Writing & Plot:

  • This was told in third person with alternating points of view. I’ve noticed I have a hard time connecting to characters when stories are told in third person. That’s just a personal issue, not the book’s fault.
  • The first third of the book was incredibly monotonous, mostly because of the rumors, gossip, and reputations being destroyed. I’m not interested in that sort of stuff.
  • The plot in the middle part picked up and things got really good. There was some character development, and scenes that gave me feels.
  • The last third kind of dragged until the last few chapters. There was too much war plotting and dragged out suspense.
  • Hardly any back story/lack of world building is probably my biggest issue with the book. I want to know more about the history between the Herrani and the Valorians, not just one defeated the other and the losers became slaves.
  • I love forbidden love stories, but Kestrel and Arin relationship kind of felt “meh” to me. They went from ignoring each other, to hanging out and playing games, to making out in a carriage. I really don’t feel like there was a good foundation to their romance. There needed to be more scenes building up to why they felt the way they felt about each other instead of instalove. I did really enjoy their scenes in the third bit of the book!
  • With that being said, this is definitely more of a romance than fantasy. I really don’t know why this is called fantasy, there’s no magical elements, fanstatical beings, etc.
  • The ending sets the second book up for a love triangle (or square?). Bleh.

Will I continue the series? Nope.


3 thoughts on “The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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