The Winner's Curse
The Winner's Curse: Book One
The Winner's Curse: Book One
Written by Marie Rutkoski
Published March 4th 2014
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia via Netgalley
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.
The market is no place for a young Valorian girl without an escort, but Kestrel has never been one to abide by her father's rules. But when she and friend Jess become disorientated and find themselves in the midst of the slave auction. The young nineteen year old brute being auctioned is not only a Herrani blacksmith, in which Kestrel's General father could use for his guard, but he can sing. Before Kestrel has time to contemplate, she finds herself winning the young man for a hefty price, otherwise known as The Winner's Curse. The slave is simply known as Smith, and now Kestrel owns him.
His real name is Arin, a Herrani who are treated as slaves after the Valorian army fought to take their homes, their lives and their citizens, but Arin is more than a slave and is determined to fight for his freedom. The quietly determined Kestrel has her own battle to fight, either enlist in the army as a soldier, something in which her father staunchly approves, or marry. Neither option plausible where the feisty young girl is concerned. She despises the Valorian customs, so when she begins to interact with Arin, naturally she finds herself curious as to who he really is.
The country is on the brink of war, the Herrani revolutionaries are taking a stand and fighting for what is rightfully theirs, but will it tear Kestrel and Arin apart before they realise just what they mean to one another.
The Winner's Curse is incredible. I loved it. Loved. It. It's not often a book comes around where every single aspect, the storyline, world building, characters and writing are immaculate, but Marie Rutkoski is pretty darn close. Never have I devoured a book where the storyline flowed so effortlessly, telling the tale of a society which was destroyed through invasion, the citizens bought and sold into slavery and where women are either deemed wives or soldiers. Kestrel is neither. Her father is a general and sees the potential in his daughter's quick wit and intellect, making for a perfect strategist for his brutal army. But Kestrel is content to immerse herself in music, a trait shared with her late mother. Her love of music being the deciding factor in purchasing Arin from the slave auction. I adored Kestrel. She isn't the typical heroine, but has a quiet resolve against what her fellow Valorian's believe and societies rules of how a young woman of her stature should behave. Her intellect surpasses that of her male counterparts, often landing her in trouble.
Arin, formally known as Smith, is reserved, a schemer and detests what his society has become. He holds his cards close to his chest and never imagined being sold to the General's daughter would leave him wanting nothing more than to touch her. He's strong willed and incredibly resilient, but Arin isn't who he seems and is torn between what he believes and the girl who has instilled hope in his life again.
The romance? Perfect. There was no instant love, but a mature relationship slowly building from what seemed to have begun as a strong distaste. The two incredibly diverse characters bond over a shared truth stemming from a simple card game and their forbidden relationship grows. I loved the quiet moments between the two, when the world around them began to crumble. Neither cared what society thought, those around them seemingly believing that Kestrel had taken a lover. But when war explodes across the territory, it's Kestrel who finds herself torn.
The Winner's Curse is absolutely bloody brilliant. This not only lives up to the hype, but far surpasses it. I was blown away and can't even begin to imagine how I'll cope before book two is released. I need it. NOW.