Review: THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski

the winner's curseTitle: The Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #1
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | Kobo | TBD

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.


My Review:


The story in a nutshell:

Kestrel, daughter of a Valorian general who’s known as one of the key persons for the victory of their people, finds herself in a tangled web of demands of loyalty, responsibility, and love, when she purchases Arin, a Herrani slave up for auction in the market. And she may have gotten more than she bargained for. Battle lines may be drawn but what will her heart tell her to choose?


What worked for me?

There are so many good things about this book! I honestly couldn’t put it down other than to do stuff like eat, sleep, and work.

I love the dichotomies that the story presents us with. You have the Valorians vs the Herranis. You have the conquerors vs the conquered. Having the main characters as one and the other just creates that enormous bag of possibilities, for plot, for character development, for conflict. And this book definitely delivers on all fronts.

I love the way Marie Rutkoski deals with and expounds on the inner struggles of the characters. What I appreciate most in this book is that there are no definitive answers as to who is right and who is wrong. Might doesn’t mean right. And loyalty to one may not mean betrayal of another. It all comes down to choices and personal decisions. All while the stakes are very high. I love that.

Arin and Kestrel are compared to Romeo and Juliet, with their star-crossed love, their ‘families’ being mortal enemies. But I think that they’re smarter and more mature than those two famous literary characters, no offense to William Shakespeare. Just because all seems lost doesn’t mean they go drink poison and kill themselves. No, they think things through, they strategize, they follow their gut and their heart. And when all seems lost, they fight some more.


What did not work for me?

The waiting. The waiting around for the second book in the series to come out. Seriously, I need it now!


My over-all take on it?

A great first book to kick-start a series. I love the plot and character developments. The progression of the story was really compelling. I was left guessing at every turn, wondering where the author plans to take her story. I’m on the edge of my seat, racking my mind with ways this could end in HEA but just the same, trusting Marie Rutkoski to take me there. Maybe not immediately, but you will, Marie, right? In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this amazing journey!


My rating:

 5 stars



About the Author:

Marie-Rutkoski-761Marie Rutkoski is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including The Winner’s Curse (March 2014). She grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois as the oldest of four children and decided early on that she was Someone Who Loved Books.

After attending the University of Iowa and living in Moscow and Prague, she studied Shakespeare at Harvard University, where she honed her skill in referring to herself in the third person.

Marie is now a professor of English literature at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance drama, children’s literature, and fiction writing. New York City is her home, and she thinks there must be birds of prey living in Washington Square Park; she can see large, wheeling wings from the window where she sits and writes. Marie has two small sons who try very hard to make friends with the family cat, only to be snubbed for the dark quiet of a closet. Marie can tie a double figure-eight knot with her eyes closed. She’s learning how to play the violin. She’s a sucker for fancy tea, and her favorite dessert is crème brulée. Or maybe sticky toffee pudding. Tough call.

Connect with Marie Rutkoski:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter |  Instagram  |  Pinterest | Goodreads | Tumbler




11 thoughts on “Review: THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski”

  1. I absolutely loved this book. Kestrel is such a great protagonist, which doesn’t mean she doesn’t make mistakes, but I loved that Rutkoski wrote such an intelligent character.


    1. I loved this book as well. I was afraid that I wouldn’t like it in all its hype but I was eternally grateful that I found myself so immersed in the story and the lives of these wonderful characters. 🙂 And I definitely agree on Kestrel’s character! 🙂


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