Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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. 

Comments About the Cover: I think it’s pretty and love the dress, but am not a fan of the camera angle or the model’s pose.


  1. Yeah, I'm not loving the cover either. The angle is just not that great!
    I do like a good fantasy, so I'll put this on the wishlist. Too bad about the romance. Sounds like it could have used more depth.

    Nina from J'adore Happy Endings

  2. Thanks for your review. I've heard nothing but great things about this one and it's almost refreshing to see some negatives about it. I definitely plan to read this one at some point!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  3. I also grew interested in this one only after reading positive review after positive review. I think I'll try to lower my expectations a bit so I don't end up disappointed when I do end up reading it. I think I might feel the same about the romance...

  4. I really enjoyed this novel. I think what I enjoyed about it the most, was the it was like nothing I had been reading. I liked how different it was. I didn't mind the romance. I am so used to insta-love that this slow burn/is this even realistic was kind of refreshing. I am VERY curious about where the story is going, especially after the end.

    Thanks for the review!

  5. I just recently finished this on audio, and I must say that I liked the narrator more than I liked the actual book. As for everyting else, I pretty much agree with you. It was great, but not mindblowing as I expected.

  6. I haven't picked this one up yet either because of all the hype and positive reviews but it's high up my list. I'll pick it up soon. I like reading it without remembering why everyone liked it or in the heat of the hype. Glad you enjoyed this one overall.

  7. I know exactly what you mean about the romance! It just happened to me with After the End, it was a slow romance but I just couldn't get behind it for some reason. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it overall because I broke down and bought it awhile ago because of all the hype :P

  8. I had this one in my hands at the library the other day and decided to put it back. I'm not sure, something about the plot is putting me off. I'm glad I read your review, which is the first that hasn't been super gushy. At least now I feel like I can pick up the book and not be too disappointed (or entirely alone!) if I don't end up loving it.


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