The Winner's Curse Book Cover The Winner's Curse
Winners 1/3
Marie Rutkoski
Juvenile Fiction
A&C Black
April 10, 2014

As a general's daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. Kestrel has other ideas. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in Arin, a young slave up for auction. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him - and for a sensational price that sets the society gossips talking. 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 him is much higher than she ever could have imagined. The first novel in a stunning new trilogy, The Winner's Curse is a story of romance, rumours and rebellion, where dirty secrets and careless alliances can be deadly – and everything is at stake.

Reading Time: 29/3 – 9/5

other books in the Series are:  book 2 The Winners Crime                                                                                      book 3 The Winners Kiss

This was the first book of Marie’s books that I have ever read and her writing enthralled me from start to finish. It only took me so long to read the book because I was reading while reading other books some of which took priority because they were books I’d received for review. The authors writing had me captivated from start to finish and the plot/character development were second to non.

Plot (4.5/5 Stars): I loved the way this book was written and the plot was developed well. The book is a YA fantasy, historical hybrid and although it seemed quiet slow placed in it was probably paced appropriately for the age that it was written for. Those who enjoy contemporary books may be disappointed with how the world is structured while fans of High fantasy and historical fiction will be disappointed with the historical elements particularly the way it is thrown in in random chunks.

Characters (4.5/5 Stars): All the characters were well developed, multi faceted, flawed and most importantly real so was able to connect with each of them on different levels and for different reasons. Although the characters were really well developed in this book Marie had left enough elements in their characters that can be developed further in future books.                   Kestrel was the perfect character to see this world through being that she was the generals daughter who had her own questions about the society she lives in which gave a great introduction to the world. Her awareness of her strengths and weaknesses and the ways she adapted to accommodate them really endeared me to her. Her stories that she shared throughout the book were interesting and helped you understand her as a person more.                                                                                                                                                                     Arin, the Herani Slave that Kestrel bought at a auction, was a really interesting character who I swung between loving and hating. This was due to the situations he was placed in which I could not imagine ever being in myself. From the beginning of the book it was clear that he was a well educated and intelligent man who it was easy to underestimate as Kestrel did. The strategic way in which his mind worked reflected Kestrel’s well and it would be great to see how the plotting and scheming between the two of them develops more in other books.                                                                                                                                                               The brother and sister duo of Jess and Ronan were fantastic characters who I fell in love with. I loved how similar and yet different they were to the other characters and with how they contrasted with Kestrel. I thought the development and shifts they endured were intriguing.                                                                                                                                                                Kestrel’s dad is a general in the Valerian army and he is a strong, determined, kind, loyal and loving man. I loved how his character developed in this book and can’t wait to see how he develops further in future books, especially with how this book book ended.

World building (4.5/5 stars): The way that Marie built the world in this book was amazing and kept me enthralled from beginning to end. The combination of Greco-Roman elements with the technology and society created a place that fascinated me. I particularly enjoyed learning about the society “The Rulers (the Valorians)” and their slaves (The Herrani) this element of the society interested me so much because it is a difficult subject to explore in a book particularly one aimed at young adults and Marie handled it with a great deal of respect.                                                                                                                                                             The juxtaposition of the fashion where women wore beautiful dresses with a dagger fastened at their waists was fascinating and created a warrior society where military prowess is valued. It was also fantastic to read about a society where brains and beauty were valued equally.

My Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this fantastically well written book with fully developed characters, world and plot from cover to cover. The book was a perfect start to what I am sure will be an amazing trilogy. This is a book that I will read again as well as both recommend to others and buy as a gift for anyone I know who will enjoy it. It is for all these reasons as well as the ones mentioned above that I gave it a full five star rating.