Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Posted May 19, 2014 by lockhartbecca in Reviews / 13 Comments

The Winner’s Curse

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #1
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, 355 pages
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Source: Personal Library, Bought
Rating: 5 Stars
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Synopsis from Goodreads:


Winning what you want may cost you everything you loveAs 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.


My Review:


Oh my gosh. I was so nervous/worried/excited going into this one. This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2014. I was pretty devastated that I didn’t get an ARC. And then release day passed. And then I finally bought myself a copy. And then I let it sit on my shelf for a month. And then I finally picked it up. I was so worried that the hype monster would get me on this. EVERYONE had been raving about this book. I tried not to set my expectations too high, but it’s hard not to when you’ve heard nothing but good things. But guys. GUYS. It did not disappoint. This book was amazing!!! Best high fantasy I’ve read since Crown of Midnight.


The world is intricate and rich, full of life. The characters were real, relatable, likeable. The feels. Oh the feels! So many feels. I know I’m not making any sense. Let me try and assemble my thoughts.


The main character, Kestrel, reminded me of June from Legend. She was smart, way smarter than me. She knows strategy and would kill anybody in a game of chess. I loved the way her brain worked. Watching her work out different problems was fascinating. Kestrel is strong, but not in fist-fighting way. She is strong of mind and I loved that. It was a change from the typical high fantasy heroine. Kestrel also has a heart of gold. From the beginning you could tell that she was different from her fellow Valorians. She was regal, quiet, but also fiery and fierce. I loved her so much.


Arin. Oh Arin, how I love you. New book boyfriend, people. Arin was kind, strong, caring, a leader. He’s got the sexiness of a guy who can work. I mean, he’s a blacksmith. I just kept picturing him bent over the fire, hammering steel, shirtless, dripping in sweat…. Oh sorry, got distracted. But aside from that, he loves music. (Although I do wish that aspect of his personality had been focused on a bit more.) He likes to read. Oh, and that one thing that he does for Kestrel that I won’t say because I don’t want to spoil it? Swoon freaking swoon.


These two characters together was an explosion of awesome. They complimented each other in so many ways and were just perfect together. The romance is slow-burning, no insta-love here people. Arin and Kestrel work together to make this story completely come to life. The politics. The fighting. The stakes. The tension. Loved everything about it. If you like high fantasy, you need to read this book. Happy reading all!


Let’s talk! Have you read this one yet? What did you think of the world? The characters? Did you fall in love with it like I did? 

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13 responses to “Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

  1. YAY!!! I'm so glad you loved it so much. Regal is a perfect word for Kestrel and YES, Arin is an amazing BB. I also got distracted when you started talking about his blacksmith work, and love of music and books. 😉

  2. So glad the hype monster didn't get you! I thought you would like Arin. And yes, their relationship was amazing, slowly progressing so naturally. I loved the politics of this as well. That ending though…my heart broke. Great review! ~Pam

  3. YAY!!! I have this and I was a little worried that the hype monster would get me too! So happy to hear that it's so good. I'm very, very excited to get to this one now. I'm actually stopping by as someone linked you up to my Blogger Love post. Thanks for the amazing review, very excited to see a slow-burning romance for once 🙂

  4. So glad you enjoyed this one! I'm a bit afraid to read it because of the hype, but I think that I should just stop stalling and just read this one already xD Kestrel definitely sounds like a character I'd love! And I love the idea of the romance! 🙂

  5. I'm glad to see another lover of this book! I have yet to read Legend, but your reference to similarities between Kestrel and June makes me want to pick up Legend and finally read it. Arin had me sitting in a pool of drool before the book was of my favorite boys everrr. I can't wait to read the next in the series, I wish the wait wasn't so long!

  6. SO glad you loved it! I really enjoyed it too. I felt like the beginning could have benefitted from some more solid world building (my personal preference since I like a lot in the beginning) but WOW, that ending! The middle to end was sooooo exciting and this was really a great book! 😀

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