Monday, March 24, 2014


The Winner's Curse
by Marie Rutkoski
**** 4 of 5 stars

Farrar Straus Giroux
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Romance
Pages: 355
Amazon | Indiebound | 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.

The pensive tone drew me in, and the clever world-building kept me fascinated.  That familiar but foreign setting (I loved the Greco-Roman influences) as well as the political plot were well crafted--with interesting warfare dynamics--conquerer and conquered and all of that. Of course, along with the political plot is the strong romantic plot. In fact, it could have been a little better if it was a somewhat lighter on the romance and stronger on the fantasy-world-building aspect, although the slow building of the romance makes it seem more real than a lot of the other YA relationships.

I appreciated that it was thoughtful and direct in approaching certain issues--class equality, power, etc.... but at times maybe a little too obvious about it for a more sophisticated reader. I also have to mention how softly and brilliantly the music was woven into the book--it provided an extra layer of the characters that they needed. 

I have a feeling that this is going to be a great series! It has all the right components--a complex but not confusing fantasy world, political dynamics, and romance. Readers of Shadow & Bone (The Grisha trilogy), Legend by Marie Lu, and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge would love this.

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