Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #1
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.
4 Drink Me Potions
There were many things that I absolutely adored about The Winner’s Curse, and also left me feeling like a complete wreck.
Kestrel was aptly named. She was as fierce and fearsome as the bird for which she was named after. She may not be an excellent fighter, which was unique in itself, ’cause these days a lot of heroines in fantasy novels are the best fighters out there. No, that wasn’t where her skill lies. It was her ability to see through the lies people try to weave and her amazing aptitude at strategizing for war and battle tactics. It was like a game of chess, or in this world, a game of Bite and Sting. You’ve got to know your opponents, but most importantly, you gotta know where their weaknesses and strengths lie. You’ve got to know them better than yourself.
Kestrel, however, wasn’t ruthless, as the above description may have depicted her. Yes, she was good at strategizing, for which her general father was extremely delighted about. But, she hated to take a life and just wanted to stay at home to play her piano and make music. In a moment that had seemed like weakness, she ended up buying a slave at an auction that changed her whole life. That slave, Arin, would change her whole perspective.
Arin and his people the Herrani were captured and made into slaves 10 years ago when Kestrel’s people, the Valorians, in particular her father, had overrun and won the Herran War. Their city was captured, their homes taken and their families were separated or lost as casualties of war. In the midst of all the party-going and boring fun that the Valorians were enjoying after a decade of luxury, a rebellion was quietly brewing.
The Winner’s Curse is full of action and adventure, heartbreaking decisions and misunderstandings. Kestrel and Arin come from two different worlds, yet they could find it in themselves to fall for one another for simply who they were inside. Was it possible that a Valorian and a Herrani could care for one another like that? The romance wasn’t explicitly dwelled upon. Sure, there was a kiss or two, but it was the kind of romance that brewed beneath the surface. One that kind of snuck up on you without either party knowing how they could have such strong feelings for the other, to the point that they would sacrifice for one another.
I loved how it was a story that was just simply a romance centering on two star-crossed lovers. It wasn’t just a story of war either. It was a whole mess of everything put into one, with betrayals and heart stopping outcomes. All I can say at the end of it was that I couldn’t wait for more, and I surely hope there would be a happy ending for two such strong characters as Kestrel and Arin. This was a brilliant start of a series. I hope the rest won’t disappoint.
The Winner’s Curse had elements of many things that I enjoyed. I always love a good ol’ story of forbidden love that seems to conquer all. Kestrel and Arin’s story was that and way more. Their peoples are brewing for war and it seems they’re caught up in the middle of it. With a hefty amount of strategizing and a conclusion that swept my heart away with sorrow, I’m holding my breath for more and can’t wait to see how their story continues from here. This is one series I would recommend giving a shot.