Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 3rd July 2014
Format: E-Book, Paperback
Boffins, Dymocks, Booktopia
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.
Reading The Winner’s Curse is like taking a really deep breath before going underwater because you don’t know when you’re going to remerge. The whole entire book is one big constant what if and what now. Even re-reading it for a fourth time, I find myself completely spellbound by this fantasy world – where no magic exists – that Rutkoski has created.
Originally I was going to do a mini review for both Curse and Crime, as I’m about to start reading the final book, Kiss, but I realized I have too many feelings and there was nothing “mini” about my review.
Kel is one of my favourite YA heroines. She’s not like my other badass favourite, Celaena (from Throne of Glass), who uses her fists and crazy ninja skills more often than logic. Kel, on the other hand, is logical. She’s smart and very tactical, and it’s her desire not to spill blood that makes her highly appealing in a world where it seems that to have a strong YA heroine, she has to be a fighter. She’s also not perfect, and we’re reminded of this with her interactions with Arin. Both of them are fighting for what is best for their people, and at whatever cost that may be, which means a lot of self-sacrificing on their part.
And Arin. Arin, be still my heart. You make me swoon but you make me angry too. Fourth time reading and I still feel shocked at the turn of events halfway through. And that, dear reader, is the hallmark of a great book. These two have so much room to grow that I don’t know if my heart can handle it.
The beauty of The Winner’s Curse is that it’s a book of subtlety. There’s no grandiose or over the top reminders that things are about to get real. The romance is understated and slow burning and you’ll find that most of the time you just really, really, really want Arin and Kestral to just hurry up and fecking kiss already, but at the same time, it’s a huge breath of fresh air.
What I also loved was that there was a good mixture of plot and characterisation, so you never felt like as a first book, The Winner’s Curse was an info dump of world building and setting up the next two books. I love that even though it’s a fantasy, there’s not even a hint of magic. It’s really defined a new set of rules for the fantasy genre that will open up the gateways to a whole new set of readers.
Full of unexpectancy, intrigue and the strongest main characters in YA right now, The Winner’s Curse is definitely one for your to-be-read-right-now pile.