The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: Mar 4 / 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
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.
*A copy was provided by the publisher for review*
Thank you so much to Raincoast Books and Macmillan!
The Winner's Curse is one of the best fantasy novels I've read in a while. Set in the war between the Valorians and Herrani people, the main character becomes part of a rebellion unknowingly.
The pacing of the story is fast and that makes me what to keep reading until I finish the whole thing. Kestrel is a good narrator. She's naturally an analytic person and as a result, we get to see everything in a strategic way. I find that refreshing compared to other hot tempered kickass heroines. With Kestrel, we get to fully explore the world of the Valorians and Herrani. We get to see everything between slave auctions, slave works, war meetings, rebellion break-outs. I was sucked up by this enchanting world and its deep history.
Other than the plot and pacing, the characters and the love story was the best. As I said before, Kestrel thinks a bit differently than most heroines. I really like her analytic view of things, and she has a really distinctive and strong voice. Arin, the love interest, was a slave. He still held his head high in defiance and never bend easily to anyone's will. He's exceptionally good at everything he shouldn't be good at. I find his rebellious streak very appealing and I think he's a very suitable person to lead the rebellion. He's hard-working and isn't afraid to speak the truths to Kestrel.
Something extra I found interesting was the Bite and Sting game. It seems like some form of mahjong or poker in their world. The most threatening and relationship-developing conversations were passed while playing this game. I don't really understand the rules but it's a great side thing I thought I'd mention.
The Winner's Curse is definitely one of the best fantasy novel in 2014 so far. Even though I went in with super high expectations, I was disappointed. Instead, I was blown away by the alluring world of the Valorians and Herrani. The plot, characters, and romance were all spot-on and I'd recommend this book to all readers. You shouldn't be turned away by the hype; this one is a must-read!