By: Melanie | April 19, 2014 | (24) Comments

Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy, #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Release Date: July 3, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Pages: 368
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.

THAT ENDING. It should be illegal to end books like that. *sobs in the corner* The Winner’s Curse doesn’t disappoint to provide an outstanding fantasy tale with strong, relatable protagonists, a highly swoon-worthy forbidden romance, flawless world building and a riveting and well plotted story line. Even though it’s been a day since I’ve read this, my thoughts haven’t left this novel.

Kestrel’s life has never been the most intriguing. She’s the general’s daughter and is given two choices: either join the military and fight or marry to a respectable Valorian man. Kestrel wants to do neither. Her days are spent playing piano, for she is infatuated with music. And during this time period, music isn’t regarded as something people like Kestrel should be interested in. Yet when she finds herself at an auction for a slave who is believed that he can sing, Kestrel finds herself buying him for a heavy price. What Kestrel doesn’t know is that buying the slave–Arin–was a huge mistake.

It was a sin to break a deathbed promise.
Arin left without making one.

The characters in The Winner’s Curse were written with a lot of relatable characteristics but refreshing all the same. Kestrel isn’t afraid to stand her ground and do what she believes is right. Even if it means to break a few rules here and there. She’s a strategist as well. I loved her strong minded personality. And of course, her love for music was a bonus. As for Arin, the blacksmith, he was a very smart and quick to take advantages when a hole opens up. I think I liked Arin more than Kestrel, mainly for Arin’s past and how awfully flawed but realistic he was. (Not to say that Kestrel wasn’t. But he was exceptionally more so.)

I fell in love with the romance. Like everyone has probably mentioned, it’s a slow burn and will make you swoon. That hair braiding scene = me flailing and dying simultaneously. It’s a forbidden romance like I aforementioned but wasn’t angsty or full on melodramatic like some forbidden romances can be. Rutkoski gives us the perfect dose.

She saw him and didn’t understand how she had ever missed his beauty. How it didn’t always strike her as it did now, like a blow.

There isn’t much that The Winner’s Curse fails at. And, if anything I had to nit-pick at, it would be at the pacing. The second half of The Winner’s Curse is exceedingly better than the first. If the first half was a stroll in the park, the second half was a never-ending sprint. It was in the last half, where stakes grew high and where the plot line really moved. Sure, the entire novel was fascinating, but the second half seriously took it to the next level.

The Winner’s Curse deserves all the praise, if not more. It’s brimming with brilliance and will definitely sweep readers off their feet with it’s unforgettable characters and world. Now, who should I give all my money to in exchange for book 2?

~Thank you Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this copy!~

4.5 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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24 Responses to Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

  1. Melliane says:

    yay! I was so anxious to see your review about this one because I really enjoyed it. Now I’m so happy you loved it too. Krestel is such a great heroine to follow.
    Melliane recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #90My Profile

  2. Oh, Mel. This has been on my reader for a bit, and I do want to join in the awesome bandwagon because of all the praises for this book! But I am on a reading slump, and found myself reading a LOT of books, but not continuing any of them. I am hopeful for this one, though 🙂
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…The Weekly Roundup #007 : Reading Slump Within A Mischievous KissMy Profile

  3. Wahey Mel, another book you’ve really enjoyed! I haven’t read or even considered this book because it’s kind of historical fiction and I’m into that, so I don’t know if I ever will, but the romance sounds nice and believable and the characters seem relatable and realistic, so I’m glad you liked it, like so many others have 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Reading ‘Too Many’ Books and How It’s Changed MeMy Profile

  4. Hells yeah. If you like a book I know it’s worth reading. I saw up and down reviews for this one but I wanted it to be good so bad. And now I know for sure it is. I am scared about the ending now though, lol.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Stacking The Shelves #73: Vampires are Back!My Profile

  5. Ahhhh. I cannot wait to read this one. I’ve only heard good things!
    Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books recently posted…Feature & Follow Friday #16My Profile

  6. Nara says:

    THAT ENDING WAS EVIL. And then you think about the true meaning of “The Winner’s Curse” in the context of Kestrel’s choice in the book and it’s like NYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 🙁
    Nara recently posted…Reading Update (18/4/13)My Profile

  7. Pili says:

    YESSSSS!! I love reading reviews for this book because I keep on finding people to flail about it with!!
    The writing was gorgeous and what made me not mind the slow pacing of the first half was all the world building and how it kept on making me think of classical Greece and Rome!
    Pili recently posted…Saturday Pages: The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson!!My Profile

  8. I agree, the first part of the novel was kinda slow and not as interesting as the second part. I did enjoy this book overall, although I found Kestrel irksome sometimes, though. And the writing? The writing is definitely one of the best I’ve seen. She’s so lyrical, and she can make words gorgeous without stepping over the line towards purple prose.
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…ARC Review: Tease by Amanda MacielMy Profile

  9. Ahhhhhh, I need to get a copy of this! Glad you loved it!
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Book Looks (51): Control by Lydia Kang!My Profile

  10. Zoe N. says:

    Yeah! I’m so glad you loved this as much as I did Mel! <3 I agree…it should be illegal to end a book like that! :'( The romance and the writing were definitely out of this world though! 😀 Even if it was a bit slow (I definitely agree with that as well!), I feel that it wasn't too bad and that the awesomeness of the rest of the book covers up that minor flaw. 😉 Thanks so much for sharing Mel, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe N. recently posted…Something RealMy Profile

  11. Stephanie B says:

    *flail* YES! YOU LIKED IT! YAY!!!! Ah, man. I adore this book. EXCELLENT review too.
    Stephanie B recently posted…Cover Reveal & Author Interview: How We Deal With GravityMy Profile

  12. Anah says:

    *flails* AH! I’ve been hearing about this everywhere, and I finally got to read a free sample. I need this book in my life. Like, now.

    Glad you liked it!
    Anah recently posted…Where Are All The Young People At?My Profile

  13. Summer says:

    Lovely review! I absolutely adored this book that I just could not stop fangirling. This is probably one of those select few books in which the romance is my favorite part (I mean, come on. Who could not swoon from Arin?) ^_^
    Summer recently posted…LA Times Festival of Books RecapMy Profile

  14. Juhina says:

    That ending RIGHT? AH! *dies* I seriously can’t wait to get my hands on the next book! and you’re right.. the romance was slow burning and swoon worthy! great review,

    – Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf
    Juhina recently posted…Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. SmithMy Profile

  15. 88dreamers says:

    This book seems to be very popular! and very very good, would love to read this one , thanks for the great review.

    88dreamers @ Seriesly Reading
    88dreamers recently posted…Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt – ReviewMy Profile

  16. Awesome review Mel, glad to hear the hype lived up to the book for you! I love the sound of the slow burning romance.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Disruption by Jessica Shirvington Review: Scientific match makingMy Profile

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