Release date: March 4, 2014
Published by: 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.
The Winner's Curse is a beautiful, heartwrenching tale that is brilliantly rich in plot and character. It follows a young Herrani slave and the daughter of a Valorian general as they become involved in a forbidden romance that is destined to fail.
Kestrel, the heroine, was a character that I easily fell in love with. She's smart, sensible, and calculating. Despite being the General's daughter and despite her hours spent training in combat, she is not a strong fighter. Her strengths lie in her intelligence and skills of observation. She's quick to grow and adapt and is level-headed. I think it would be difficult for any reader not to like her.
I was drawn to the depth and diversity of characters in this story. All of their decisions and motivations were easily understood and the situations were so complicated that you couldn't fault them for the choices they made. It's a story of slavery and war and at times it became difficult to judge right from wrong considering the circumstances. I was often thinking of what I would do if I were in their shoes. When the story took a drastic turning point and I felt as if I were experiencing the sting of betrayal along with the heroine, I wanted to be angry. Instead, I found myself hesitating. Wanting your freedom isn't wrong. What wouldn't I sacrifice to obtain it?
Rutkoski is a talented storyteller and has written a novel that I found satisfying on every level. This is where I would normally recommend what I've read to a certain group of readers, but I'm going to recommend this to everyone.