The Winner’s Curse – Review // An Unexpected New Favorite

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski 
Book 1 in The Winner’s Trilogy
Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 361
Format: paperback
Source: bought
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I wasn’t expecting to love The Winner’s Curse nearly as much as I did. *heart eyes emoji*

the plot

The basic plot is this: the daughter of a famed general purchases a slave at an auction on impulse and has to hide her growing feelings for him while deciding whether she would rather marry or join the military. Some say the first half is slow, and while I can see why they’d think that, I think it’s more along the lines of allowing readers to get used to the world and the characters. In my opinion, it was done very well; the story never felt forced or drawn out. Then the second half came, and everything went down. This was when the intensity came, and the emotions along with it. If I loved everything about the first half, then I adored everything about the second half. 😀

the characters

I want to make it clear: I love Kestrel Trajan. She’s one of my new favorite female leads. She’s not the best fighter, with only ordinary skills, but she’s a talented strategist and has a passion for music, particularly the piano. I loved the refreshing take Marie put on her character: she relied on strategy and distance in combat, rather than actual combat skills. In this way, she was very different from any other girls I’ve read about. Having lost her mother at a young age, she was both empathetic as a girl of her age should be and tough as a general’s daughter would be expected to be. The two were equally balanced, and it made her very interesting. ❤

Arin, though, I have mixed feelings for. I can’t specify why without spoiling, but for those who have read it: the second half. You’ll know exactly what I mean. He was charismatic and dedicated, but I never knew what to expect from him. While that is a good thing, it also put me in that uncomfortable position of having a love-hate relationship with him. Sometimes I liked him, and often I didn’t. I understood his reasoning, but I also couldn’t stand it. Looking beyond that, though, I loved his character and his backstory. Again, saying too much would spoil it, but let me just say that it was fantastic. 😉

the setting

I loved the world of Valoria. It had slight Ancient Rome vibes, but was still completely different and lovely…in a bit of a terrifying way. If that makes sense. It seemed like a nice place to live, but wrongly acquired and equipped with a strict, expectant government and society. I think living there would be fun at my age, but also stressful, with the choice of enlisting or marrying coming much too soon. The world was well-written and creative, and I was left with only one question. Early on it’s mentioned that captured runaway slaves had their ears and nose cut off because it was a punishment that didn’t impede their work. Wouldn’t lack of hearing count as an impediment? And for cooks, lack of smell, too? I would think that they would punish with other methods: beatings, maybe, or possibly the loss of a finger or two…while it would be difficult to recover from the latter, I imagine having eight fingers would be easier to work with than having no ears. 😉

the relationships

I really enjoyed the friendship between Kestrel and Jess. She was the best friend I wish I had, always there for you to support you, but also constantly teasing. The dynamic between them was fun and just fabulous, and I hope nothing happens to her or their bond in the rest of the trilogy. 🙂

Then, of course, there’s the romance between Kestrel and Arin. As a lady and a slave, respectively, any bond is clearly not allowed. But, obviously, I hoped for one; I do consider myself a hopeless romantic after all, and forbidden love happens to be particularly intriguing to me if it’s done well. And in this case, it certainly was. I shipped them basically from the beginning…until the second half, that is. From there, I wasn’t sure what to think. Part of me still wanted it to happen so badly, and the other part of me was very skeptical and almost against it. Currently, I don’t know where I stand on their romance, but I hope to love it again after continuing the trilogy. 😉

the twists

Like I said before, the first half was enjoyable but mostly uneventful. Then I get to the second, and everything that could happen does. It’s so hard not to just talk about absolutely everything, but that’s what my video review is for. Okay…I had a slight idea of the original twist, but I didn’t see anything after that coming. All I could do was keep turning pages and hope for the best for Kestrel…okay, and Arin too, although I wasn’t as worried about him for varying reasons. But regardless, the story was a mostly wild ride and I absolutely loved it. 😀


So, yes, if you couldn’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed The Winner’s Curse, much more than I thought I would, and I’ll be reading the sequel as soon as I can. 😀 *heart eyes emoji*

my rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? If you have read it, what did you think? I’d love to know! 🙂

I’m off to [finally!] start The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. 😛 I hope you’re all having a fabulous day/night! ❤

Until next time…

post end

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10 thoughts on “The Winner’s Curse – Review // An Unexpected New Favorite

  1. I think this is going to have to go on my TBR finally. I’ve been hesitant for months now. I feel like I will enjoy it, but I just won’t get round to picking it up anytime soon? I don’t know, it’s weird. I might just have to give in anyway haha! Lovely review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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