ARC Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski ★★★★★

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Publication Date: March 4th 2014
ISBN: 9780374384685
Page Count: 355
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Buy Link: AMAZON
Synopsis: 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.

REVIEW


Wow. Wow. And a bit more wow.

This was so good, you guys! And so different!

THE WINNER'S CURSE tells of a world  - very similar to our own, only with greatly differing traditions and histories - where, seemingly, the bad guys are winning. Kestrel, our heroine, is Valorian. The Valorians, lead by Kestrel's own father, enslaved the Herrani people about a decade ago after attacking and "colonising" their beautiful country. They now rule over them from the comfort of old Herrani mansions - which takes a special kind of audacity, right? - and use them as unpaid servants, often horribly mistreated.

You really can't help but put yourself in the place of each side of the argument in The Winner's Curse. What kind of master would I be if I were Valorian? How would my pride get me in trouble as a Herrani? And as I myself did this, I found I wasn't happy about the view from either side. When it comes to slavery and "owning" people, there are no nice easy answers or solutions. It's an impossible situation, with no hope of any happy endings that I can conceive. It was a real STOP and THINK book, that's for sure.

Plot wise, it starts out quite gently. There is a very slow and subtle building of a relationship between Herrani slave Arin and Valorian noble Kestrel. The author also shows slices of Valorian life, which is seemingly all balls, tea parties and garden games. Which kinda makes you want to slap them just a bit more. That they could be so obtuse as to be panicking about this season's colours while nearby, slaves are being beaten for dropping a spoon. Luckily for my sanity, Kestrel has about as much patience for that sort of nonsense as I do. All she wants to do is play her piano, and avoid her father's urgings to either join the military, or get married to a nice Valorian boy. Neither of which she wants to do.

As for Arin? Oyy. What a great character. He's most definitely a "still waters run deep"  type of young man. And you watch him and think, "You must be so angry! How can you act so calm?". And then... yeah. We find out.

The next book in this series has the potential to be completely explosive. There are so many turbulent feelings between Arin and Kestrel, and the new situations they're each in as The Winner's Curse closes... Surely they can only lead to heartache of the highest order? Well, one thing's for certain. I will be tuning in to find out! Eep!

5 Stars ★★★★★
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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