Review: The Winner's Curse

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.

My Review 

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Pages: 355
Publication Date: March 4 2014
Source: Library

We were not meant to be. I adore this cover fiercely, but the contents of the story just never sat well with me. 

First, I don't particularly like any of the characters. Kestrel plays piano, cares for music, and buys Arin on a whim. She's spirited, argues with her father about joining the military, and is very crafty. And yet I never liked the way the world bent down to Kestrel. Okay, she's strategic, but she is also someone with very little training. Later on, she also does something I can't reconcile whatsoever. 

Arin also didn't interest me. Not for a single second was I surprised about his storyline, and it's not something I wanted to see. It's the easy way out. It avoids the messes of the relationship that this story needed to deal with better. 

Mostly, the massive power imbalances. Arin is Kestrel's slave. His very existence depends on her. No matter how much you like someone, you're not free to really be honest with someone and have a real relationship if that person has that kind of power over you. A romance between Arin and Kestrel is something that, if it did happen, needed to delve into those psychological issues more than it did. This is more than forbidden romance, two lovers from the wrong sides of the track. I didn't like their relationship in any part of this story. 

There's also the way the story stretches my believability. The main characters are so special and talented. So special. Anyway, there is fighting, questions of duty, and the really fascinating colonial aspects as the Valorians have pretty much stolen everything the Herrani have and even live in the former's homes. Yuck. 

Still, I don't think this story is for me. The romance isn't working, and it's so central to the story that I can't just suck it up and ignore it. 



  1. It's been a while but new layout? I love it! It's a shame you didn't like this one. In general I think I've read positive reviews of this title so I was quite looking forward to getting my hands on a copy but if you say that the romance is that bad then maybe I'll give this one a miss :/

    Laura @ What's Hot?

    1. New review layout ;) Glad you like it! & I think you should give it a try from the beginning, and see if it clicks for you. So many people truly loved this and I'm not generally fond of romance-centred stories, which probably shaped my opinion.


  2. It happens. I was meh, yeh over book one but really got into the story in book two for some reason. As for book three, I'm SO EXCITED!

  3. Oh no, I'm so sad you didn't love this one. The second is better, though ;)


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