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.Audiobook, Unabridged
Five Big Stars: An amazing tale of love, war and sacrifice.
Kestrel hates going to the slave auctions, but for some inexplicable reason, her friend Jess drags her there. The auctioneer presents a young man, whom Kestrel feels a pull toward. Kestrel quickly finds herself in an intense bidding war to buy the young blacksmith slave. Once Kestrel purchases the slave, she has buyer's remorse. Why did she buy the young man?
Before long, Kestrel is forming a hesitant relationship with the slave. Leading her to question, can a slave and slave owner truly be honest with one another and have a friendship? Just when Kestrel thinks she is on the verge of discovering the answer, disaster strikes and Kestrel finds her world turned upside down, leaving her again questioning everything she knows. Will Kestrel find her way?
What I Loved:
- I am kicking myself for not reading this sooner. Yes, I took note of all the glowing reviews when they posted last year, and admitted I should read this. I had initially passed over The Winner's Curse because I feared it to be another beautiful cover book with a lackluster story, thankfully I was so wrong. The Winner's Curse is an exceedingly amazing tale that explores slavery and what ensues when one group holds another in a servile position. However, there is so much more to this book than the slave issue. It is a complex, beautiful and wonderful read that should be read by everyone. Please don't skip over this book thinking it is another ridiculous YA book. This book reads very much like an adult tale and it is so worth the read.
- I was so impressed with the writing and the attention to detail. Ms. Kutkoski has a gift for words. Her book is filled with rich and deep metaphors, breathtaking descriptions and moving emotion. I was in awe of her work, and some of the scenes she wrote stole my breath away, especially the scene toward the end with a kiss. If you are a reader who loves gorgeous writing, this one is a must read.
- The book centers around Kestrel and Arin. Kestrel is the wealthy and privileged daughter of the Empire's general, a conquering hero. Even though Kestrel is rich, she is kind. She doesn't let herself succumb to societal pressures. She is smart, cunning and calculating. She can quickly think through a problem, and access military strategy. Yet she has a softer side that shines through in her love of music. I loved watching her flounder with her growing knowledge of the wrongs her people had committed against the Herondites by holding them as slaves. Then when the tables turned, I admired and respected her courage in the face of horrible danger. Kestrel is one of the more complex and intriguing female heroines I have run across in the YA genre. Arin too is richly dark and complicated. As a slave, he harbors anger and resentment against those who hold him captive, but as he gets to know Kestrel, his feelings start to change, and he struggles mightily with this. I loved seeing the two together and watching them flounder with their sense of right and wrong. The characters in this are engaging, complicated and so fascinating.
- The world building is excellent. While reading this, I had a strong feeling that this was similar to the Roman empire in our history, and after I finished reading it, I read the author's note where she does indeed say that she drew inspiration from the Romans conquering the Greek. I loved the strong world building, the detail and the attention to detail.
- The story is full of complex ideas and lots of stumbling blocks. I enjoyed all the ideas the author explored, especially when it came to the difficulty of a relationship between a slave and a master. This book has action, danger, treachery, romance, friendship and so much more. I was immediately swept up in the story, and couldn't put it down. Don't for one minute think this is a book for young adults. This is a complicated story with depth and detail that you don't want to miss.
- The romance..... this is not your typical young adult romance. Forget love triangles and insta love and all that. This is a difficult situation, forbidden love if you will. It is a romance that takes the almost the entire book to build and just when it appears to be ready to unfurl, disaster strikes. I loved all of it, and I thought the way it played out was brilliant, so many ups and downs, and the kiss, and the confrontation on the dock were mind blowing! Definitely a romance you don't want to miss.
- The ending was a cliffhanger, the kind that leaves you screaming for more, but for once, I didn't mind because I was so completely blown away by the developments, Kestrel's courage and her decision. It was amazing!
- I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Justine Eyre. I loved her accents and pronunciations, especially when it came to Kestrel's voice. I thought her narration was excellent, my only hesitation was that I was not completely sold on her male voices. I highly recommend the audio version of this one.
And The Not So Much:
- The pacing of the first half compared to the second half is slow. It takes awhile before the book gets going because the author is taking her time with the world building, character development and sowing the seeds for a romance. I was never bored, but I will say that if you are not a patient reader, you might struggle a bit with the first part. The second half is full of action, danger and plenty of stunning developments that will keep you flipping the pages to the end.
- There were a couple of little twists that I felt were too convenient, one in particular was during the dual that Kestrel engages in. I thought that they way that played out was a little far fetched.
- The ending felt a tiny bit rushed in comparison to the rest of the book. There were so many big developments that occur in rapid fire. I wished that the author had taken it a bit slower, and it does end on a cliffhanger.
The Winner's Curse was an outstanding read. I loved the gorgeous writing, the strong world building, excellent characters and complex story line. This is a smart and intense read that explores some difficult and interesting topics. Don't for one minute overlook this book thinking it is another YA book with a pretty cover, truly this is an exceptional read that is mature and intelligent. I loved it!
I borrowed a copy of this book from the library in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.