The Winner’s Curse–Marie Rutkoski

15 January 2015

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
My Rating:
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.
I have not spoken about this book, I wanted to immediately write a review about it after I’d finished reading, but I knew my thoughts were too all over the place and it would become a bit of a rambling post about how this book was awesome. It is awesome, but I feel I can say a few more intelligent things about it than that.

I must admit, when this book first came out I did not hear that much about it because I didn’t think it was a book I wanted to read. I vaguely remember seeing good things about it, but I didn’t read the reviews, when it got mentioned in posts I generally ignored it because this was not a book on my TBR list. Then I saw it on offer for kindle, as I so often do with books, and I decided to buy it. Another impulse buy for me, an impulse buy that then sat on my kindle for about a month and then I figured I’d give it a chance. I know others felt the hype could ruin this read for them, for me I had completely avoided any hype and had no real expectations going into this book and I’m so glad for that.

This entire book is so well written, and the world building is so beautiful. It is also a difficult book to categorise, it felt a lot like a historical novel with the setting of this world, the use of slaves and the entire concept of conquering other countries to create an empire, and the way women are destined to marry all made it feel like a book set in the past in a period where Britain was conquering countries and building an empire. It did not feel like a stereotypical fantasy book, and although it is classified as a dystopian the elements of dystopian fiction are not obvious. It is very much its own individual book that feels like it cannot truly be classified, I only wish there were more fantasy books like this one.

Rutkoski’s ability to make me sympathise with both sides in this book, both the conquered and conqueror, was amazing. I was continually confused about who I should be rooting for when reading. I wanted to supported the enslaved, but then later on in the novel I could not help but feel that they were just as bad as those who had conquered them and they were targeting completely the wrong people in their revenge.

It’s a confusing book that really gets to you, your emotions will be all over the place and you will gripped from the beginning. You will not want to put the book down, it was unfortunate that I had chosen to read it during the week, I did not want to stop reading during my lunch break and throughout the working day my thoughts inevitably went back to the characters of this book, to Kestrel and Arin. This book lingered with me after finishing, I couldn’t help think back to it, especially after that ending. I was just upset I had not waited longer to finally read this book, maybe waited until it was closer to the release of the second book, but I am also extremely glad I didn’t wait because then I may never have found this book.

This is one of my favourite read of 2014, I’m glad I waited to read this book and I cannot wait for what comes next.
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