The Winner's Curse

Marie Rutkoski

Shelfie Score: 53%

Likeminded Reader Score: Login

Publisher: A&C Black
Pages: 368


As a general's daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. Kestrel has other ideas. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in Arin, a young slave up for auction. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him - and for a sensational price that sets the society gossips talking. It's not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret and Kestrel quickly learns...

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Incredibly disappointing.

The first book had flaws, but a lot of potential. It wonderfully portrayed a medieval world, where good guys - or good kingdoms - don't exist. Our sympathies may lie with the slaves, but Rutkoski ensures the reader is always aware they were never guiltless. Deceit, lies, scheming, rape and mass murder are just as common in Herran as they are in Valoria. The Winner's Curse was grounded in that realization in a way YA books rarely are.

In the second book, the Winner's Crime, the complex grey morality is gone.

All we're left with is an EVIL EMPIRE plot we've all read a million times,

and a lukewarm romance between Kestrel and a blank wall with tanned abs,

which is really as much characterization as Arin gets in this book.


I thought I might enjoy this going in, for Kristen Cashore blurbed this and I have loved every book of hers with a passion.

This book seriously satisfied my craving for a good fantasy, which is odd, because it really isn't that much of a fantasy. Sure it takes place in a different world with green storms, but after that, not much else is very fantasy-esque. There's no magic and sure the people have gods, but it's a belief and not proof of magic in the society.

I can see why everyone was raving about it. The Winner's Curse is a great political novel though and I loved the minor conflict of might versus whit. There were just so many little things the nerd core of me loved like the moral implications of slavery, conquering and whether or not children (who might not have even been born at the time) should be held responsible for their forefather's actions.

This took me no time at all o read. I flew through it, hanging off of every word, utterly in love. I hope I can read the next one soon because I believe I'm certified trash for this series, the romance and the cover. I love how it took the girl in dresses trope and spun it on its head (sort literally?).


Bookaxe Characteristics for The Winner's Curse

Character and Plot:

Characters in depth

Fast-paced plot

Language and Style:

Straight to the point

Language and style central

New Information:

Pure entertainment

Introduces you to new ideas


Explores the darker side of life
Light-hearted and optimistic


No swearing or violence etc
Frequent swearing and violence etc

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