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.
Wouldn’t it be grand if everyone could make love and not war? The Winner’s Curse was an excellent blend of romance and war. Not all out war but the brutalities that come from it, before, during and after. Told from the perspective of Kestrel and Arin, from opposing cultures of conqueror and enslaved, it’s a tale of love that blooms against the tide of their own better judgement.
You always want what you can’t have!
– Nothing entices a romance reader more than forbidden love. So when I tell you that is what we have here – you will either drink it down like a person thirsting in the desert or you’ll run screaming if that just isn’t your thing. Me personally, I loved the way this love story was done. Not only did Kestrel and Arin seem to fight against their budding attraction, it didn’t even start out as attraction, but more of a like calls to like. Two people that understand each other which then ignites a friendship neither one of them can keep themselves from denying. Their characters are so well developed that the whole story painted such a vivid image for me as I read. I became so attached as if I really knew them and could feel their inner turmoil. The struggles with who they wanted to be against what was expected of them really got under my skin. If you’ve ever battled with your own expectations or what you think you should do versus what you really want to do – then you will sympathize with these characters.
To the conqueror goes the spoils!
– The Winner’s Curse had some wonderful world building going for it. I’m a heavy fantasy reader and this definitely had a fantasy feel to it even though this world doesn’t have any actual magic in it (or at least not in this particular book in the series). The best part to me was the culture of the two peoples featured. The Herrani are an enslaved people conquered by the Valorian. Ten years Valorians invaded and took over the peninsula from the native Herrani. The Herrani value music and arts while the Valorian think that these are things that only servants and the enslaved should do. So of course you know Kestrel is given nothing but grief because she loves to make music. They are a militant culture while at the same time they have a delicate seeming upper class that is also trained in warfare. This culture was such a contradiction, but an enjoying one to learn more about. The Valorians seemed to be a strange mix of softness constantly cared for be their slaves but with that keen knifes edge for military brutality. I personally would have loved to learn more about the Herrani but as an enslaved people we didn’t get to see as much of their culture shine through. I get the feeling we will see more in the next book, which I’m very excited for.
The Winner’s Curse is the start of one epic romance that young adult readers will not want to miss!