Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski: Book Review

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.


I have realised how far I've come in terms of knowing what I like in a book; what draws me to the storyline and characters. With "The Winner's Curse" I have discovered that the theme of olden day, victorian times where royalty are the hierarchy and live in mansions and castles. This book drew me in more so because I knew it was a love story and the layout of the hardcover with the bristled edges of the paper made it so much more intriguing that I had to borrow this particular story from the library. I heard about it mostly through people on Booktube and had seen it occasionally floating around Goodreads so I felt like it was worth getting, especially reading for the Booktube-A-Thon which was a definite challenge. I did manage to read the whole thing in two days and I was proud of myself for the achievement although I was quite sad to see it end so soon, particularly on the note of which it had ended on.

Kestrel, the protagonist of the novel, was a character I found hard to like. One thing I particularly did enjoy about her character was the fact that she loved music so much thanks to her mother, who had passed on prior to the current story, who had been the one to teach her how to play. Unfortunately, due to the war between the Valorian's and the Herrani, music had been reprimanded as a forbidden activity seeing as music was something Herrani highly appreciated; the war had ended up leaving the Herrani as slaves to the Valorian's and were basically not an equal in any way whatsoever to the hierarchy, including their hobbies. With Kestrel I felt like she had absolutely no reason whatsoever to buy Arin as a slave to bring home, other than the fact that he apparently could sing and was a great blacksmith. As Arin and Kestrel eventually got to know each other, their relationship (if you could call it that) was cute in a way with the fact that they seemed to have feelings for each other. However this did not resemble any sort of serious relationship material that I would have expected and I think I was a little disappointed in that aspect.

Arin seemed like he was a great leader among the Herrani and served him useful tactics later on in the novel. However I feel like at the beginning he could have been a little less cocky and more soft towards Kestrel. I don't at all expect him to feel sorry for Kestrel or relate to her in anyway due to his past, it just would have made a better plot twist later on in the novel. He could have been more sly and discreet in terms of his plans and the novel would have had more of a climax, therefore being less foreseeable for the outcome of the situation. I like how Arin was strong and he didn't let anyone tell him what to do if he didn't have to; he wasn't a push over like some of the Herrani were and reminded me a lot of the strong-hearted nature of Enai, hence why Kestrel must have fallen for him.

Some of the things that happened throughout the story didn't really have a good enough reason for why the characters acted a certain way. I feel like there wasn't enough of a reason for Kestrel to buy Arin in the first place, it was more of a impulse decision because he sounded useful - but obviously not useful enough to tell her father about or have him do anything for days on end when he was sent to her house. If anything, I feel like Lirah and Arin were a better couple as Kestrel and Arin were polar opposites and had nothing to connect them in terms of history or emotion. Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed this novel. I just feel like there could have been more effort put into how it was written to ensure that the reader was so hooked that they couldn't put it down. If I hadn't of read this book for Booktube-A-Thon, it probably would have taken me about a week to finish.

Overall it was a decent novel and I am intrigued to read the next two in the trilogy but I'm worried that I'll just be let down again in terms of how the characters treat each other and end up plot wise. I am giving this book a 3 out of 5 stars because even though it was an enjoyable read, it let me down and I wasn't as satisfied with the outcome as I had been hoping. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a basic, interesting read with characters that will always have inconceivable differences.

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