Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Genre: YA, fantasy?, historical fiction?
Publisher/Publication Date: Farrar, Straus and Giroux / March 4, 2014
How Did I Get It? Gifted
Format? Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

Amazon | Barnes and NobleBook DepositoryGoodreads

Once again, I am an idiot. Yep – it’s official. Print a big WORLD’S BIGGEST IDIOT and tape it to my forehead. Because I nearly missed out on this book due to my snobbery over its hype a few months ago. But *once again* Nara’s review had me scrambling to get a copy, and I not-so-subtly slipped the tip to my mom that this was the ONE BOOK I wanted for my birthday. Lo and behold, there it was, all nice and wrapped! Thank you mommy ❤ And how did I feel about this book? Uh-huh – you guessed it. I’M IN LOVE. And as more time as passed since I read it, I’m even more enthralled with the story, bumping up my original rating from 5 stars to my special 6 stars.

Where do I even begin with this book? It was so vivid to me – in fact I plan on Saturating it on a Wednesday not too far in the future – both in the world building and the characters. It’s hard to place this in a genre, since it’s fantasy-ish in that it’s in another world, but it honestly feels more like historical fiction; I get a distinct Greco-Roman feel from the whole thing, except the ladies are more Spartan than anything (woohoo for badass women!). And it was all politics and high society and general sneaking about – the stuff I liked from the Harlequin novels I read, without the sexy times.

But that’s not to say that the romance wasn’t hot! It was slow-burning though, and honestly it sat in the background for most of the novel. Ohhh it was perfect ❤ Arin grew on me greatly throughout the book; I really hated him at first, with all his manipulation and cunning, but as more was revealed, it made sense and I forgave him a bit. That’s not to forget it all – the end of book one has a bunch of crap all thrown up in the air, and book two is going to have some serious scrambling to fix everything. But Kestrel is a strong character, and I love her spirit. She can handle whatever’s thrown at her for sure! But back to the romance: FJKALS;JFSFJAS THE BRAIDING SCENE. *DIES* I COULDN’T HANDLE IT.

What else can I say about this book before completely spoiling it for everyone? Nothing! I don’t trust myself to say any more. But seriously READ IT! I already need book two, and don’t get me started on the wait for book three. Dear God I may need a straight jacket. It’s definitely a new favorite for sure!

My Final Rating:

Six stars


21 thoughts on “Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

  1. The genre of this one confused me as well! Because technically it is a high fantasy (being set in another world), but me being a bit of a purist lol, with no magic system, I was like NOPE NOT A HIGH FANTASY. Definitely has a historical feel to it though!

    And aww yeah another book twin win! (On that note, I read To All the Boys and ahdsflahwlekjfahskjdhfakshdfkjahwef!!!!!!!!!!!! *dies from adorableness*)

  2. I just finished this and basically had all the same thoughts as you did. I was so scared to read this because of the hype but I’m so glad it didn’t disappoint. AND THE BRAID SCENE YES OMG. ALSO THE CARRIAGE SCENE. AND THAT LAST SCENE. AND BASICALLY EVERY SINGLE SCENE.

    Haha, Arin & Kestrel are basically why I’m dying for that sequel.

  3. YAYAYAYAYAYAY! I’m so glad you loved this!! I’m very guilty of thinking myself above the hype, and often eat my words with it. 🙂 I’ve seen a lot of people say they’re not big fantasy fans, yet they liked this, and I think it has a lot to do with the world being so Greco-Roman and familiar feeling. 😀 Great reviewwww!

    • I DO THAT ALL THE TIME! All the books I’ve read recently were hyped-up ones that I skipped previously, and then ended up loving them. I need to sit in the blogger corner of shame.

      I think it’s because it’s not like in your face FANTASY. It’s just got that atmosphere to it, without the magic and whatnot 😀

  4. OMGGG. Then it’s a historical fantasy. I think. I dunno. I haven’t read it yet but oh boy, did your review convince me to hightail it to my local bookstore and buy a copy ASAP. I know The Winner’s Curse is good but not as good as your review made it to be. I can feel the feels already. Gawd, what did you do to me, Kayla??

  5. I’m really hoping I like this one, since I’ve heard mostly great things but I am always afraid of hype. I bought it for my Nook the other day though and plan to read it in September (specifically then because it’s for book club). Hope I end up really loving it like you did!

  6. I mainly love this book because of Arin. That dude is just so dreamy and everything. I love his dedication, his passion, and his determination to set things right for his people. Despite not really liking Kestrel, compared to Arin anyway, I did think their romance was the best part of this book. The slow burn! God, it sizzles.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  7. Pingback: Weekly Recap 35 (July 13) – The Birthday Book Haul (Part TWO!) | The Thousand Lives

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