From Goodreads: 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.
My Rating: Definitely higher than 3.5 hearts but not quite 4 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski was a book that I initially had no plans to read. After seeing all the positive reviews for it though, I changed my mind for two reasons: 1) it was a fantasy and 2) the romance was deemed not to be an insta-love one.
Although I can’t say that The Winner’s Curse blew my mind, I did like it a lot. The worldbuilding was pretty solid; and while I had a bit of trouble visually conceptualizing how Rutkoski’s world would be arranged on a map, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine the setting because Rutkoski takes her time immersing you into her world.
What I didn’t enjoy as much was the romance. Yes, it was slow-paced and set up in such a way that you could logically understand why Arin and Kestrel would fall for each other, but the actual writing of the novel made their feelings sort of appear out of the blue. Also, considering that Kestrel and Arin don’t have a long history with each other, it was mystifying to me how Kestrel could still be attracted to Arin after what he did to her friends and townspeople.
As individual characters, I liked Arin and Kestrel much better. Right from the start, I had a feeling that there was more to Arin than met the eye, but I would have never guessed what he was up to! Kestrel, unfortunately, wasn’t as interesting as Arin because she seemed rather content with her life of attending parties and engaging in gossip. However, she does occasionally show that she isn’t entirely comfortable with the way her society functions. I just wish that she had been more vocal with her opinions.
The Winner’s Curse was released in March 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.