Review: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, #1) by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Bought
Publication Date: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publisher: March 4th 2014
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Slavery


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.


*Read & reviewed back in March, 2014.

**The second long review I have ever written, so I apoligize for it is not fantastic.

***You can read my review for book 2 HERE.




Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not. “Thank you,” he said.
Kestrel felt herself blush. She focused on the keys and played something, anything. A simple pattern to distract herself from the fact that she wasn’t someone who easily blushed, particularly for no clear reason.

Okay, so we have seventeen years old Kestrel, the general’s daughter, who’s pressured on enlisting in his father’s army. Before you think further, you need to know that that’s just the way it goes there. Enlisting or marring. Since she’s more a thinker than a fighter, she wants nothing to do with it. Except, she makes a bargain with his father which basically gives her six months before deciding either enlisting or marrying a Valorian. So the society is composed of the Valorians, and the Herrani which are principally slaves.

Kestrel impulsively buys a slave, a trained as a blacksmith one to be precise.

I have to say that Kestrel was really naïve when it came to Arin, the slave. He was acting all noble and higher then he really was with no fear like normal slaves would. I’m not saying that I like seeing slaves with fear in their eyes. It just that, since he wasn’t acting like one, It felt like the story was less serious, real. And Kestrel, she never complained about it. In the contrary, she obviously was intrigued of Arin’s way of being and was interested on knowing him more.
It actually reminded me a lot of Throne of Glass and Legend (don’t ask me why) so, if you liked those, you will probably enjoy this one too.

What’s with the fantasy shelf and being the most popular one by the way? That’s one of the reasons I picked up this book (the other reasons are the beautiful cover and the praised ratings). It is principally a growing forbidden love between a smart heroine and a kick-ass hero not liking each other but then falling in love because their attraction is too strong and true in an dangerous world. I really hoped some magic was involved. But no…
The romance part of the story was predictable and didn’t have that loving and exciting spark. I wish there wasn’t a love triangle

Hey, not saying here this was a bad novel. I necessarily wasn’t since I gave it three and a half deserved stars. I liked the writing. The way the author described the surrounding and the characters’ feelings got my attention and kept me from being bored and cursing it..

The world building was nicely imagined and had its own special atmosphere. The plot was also well created and never slow at all, events fluently following one another. A movie interpretation could be made by this book. I’d love to see the ball in motion. *.*

I would recommend it for whoever likes love-triangles, war settings, forbidden love and action-packed books. Really, this was a good YA read.

Quotes I liked: **MAY BE SPOILERS**

“Your cough is starting to worry me,” she told her nurse as they sat near the fire in her cottage.
“I rather like it. It keeps me company. And it brings you to visit more frequently … when you are not playing Bite and Sting”.

When she closed her eyes, she remembered something her father had often told her as a child, and would say to soldiers the night before a battle: “Nothing in dreams can hurt you.”
Sleep settled on her like velvet.

“Bring this to the general as swiftly as you can.” She gave Rax the first letter. “Have a messenger deliver this other letter to Jess and Ronan.”
“What?” Arin said. “Wait—”
“And lock this slave up.”

26 thoughts on “Review: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, #1) by Marie Rutkoski

  1. I remember really liking this but not loving it like I was really hoping that I would. I do want to read book two though because I am a sicker for forbidden love.
    Glad you liked this well enough. 😉


  2. I loved this one, so I’m a bit sad that you didn’t end up liking it as much as I did Lola. 😦 What I really enjoyed about it was how Marie didn’t make Kestrel a stereotypical dystopian kickass heroine that fights and beats everyone; rather she made her wonderful in the way that she thinks – strategically and intelligently. These are always some of my favorite characters to read about, which makes me really identify with Kestrel. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤


  3. I liked this one, but, much like you, it didn’t wow me. I was expecting the most amaizng fantasy ever written when I picked it up because EVERY blogger seemed to be raving about it. Not that I didn’t like it. It just failed to meet the high expectations that everyone else set up.


  4. I’ve seen a lot of great reviews of this, and wondered if it lived up to the hype. From your review and the comments, sounds like it’s good but not necessarily going to knock my socks off – for which I thank you. I’d rather go into a book without my expectations too high – that way I’m not disappointed, and might be pleasantly surprised.


  5. I picked up both books mainly because they have sooo much great praise. I honestly didn’t even know wth the books were about prior to making the purchase and reading your review, so thanks for giving me some insight lol. (No I didn’t read the synopsis before buying the books, isn’t that terrible ? lol) I’m one of those people that doesn’t mind a love triangle, just aslong as it’s written and well executed. Hopefully that’ll be the case with this book. Oh and girl that review was NOT long at all!


  6. I enjoyed this one (haven’t read the second…not sure if I’ll ever get to it!) but I do agree about Arin and the way he play-acted as a slave. It was almost as if the author didn’t want to hurt him but, considering how all the other slaves acted and were treated, it did make it a bit unrealistic.


  7. This review really helps to balance things out for me. This should be one of my next reads and the slew of positive reviews made me feel nervous…I doubted it could live up to the hype. Your review is much more realistic – like the book is good but not mind-blowing, which makes more sense to me considering there’s little world-building and fantasy with the focus much more on the romance. Thanks for the insightful review Lola 🙂


  8. Besides the love triangle, everything else looks pretty cool! But also, your review helps to low down the expectations. I mean, everywhere you look there is a rave review about it and hopes goes up and normally, the book ends up not living up to the hype so thank you for your honest review. It looks like a good YA book but not something spectacular. I will keep that in mind once I get to it because it is already on my TBR pile hahaha


  9. Hmm… I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked the writing style a lot and thought the world building was done well. But I felt disappointed. This book had so much hype, but I felt like it was slow in some points. The romance was steady and the Kestrel and Arin relationship was what I liked most about the book and the morals it crossed and questioned. I didn’t feel like the love triangle was strong at all? It was super faint – everyone knows how it ends, really, and it didn’t seem to be a large part of the plot to me.


  10. The cover is beautiful.. This is next on my TBR list so let’s how it goes, I’m glad you liked it for the most part. Here’s to hoping now xD I like the sound of forbidden love in novels aha great review ❤


  11. Well, I had been meaning to read this book for a long time. Your review convincing me to try it out. Even thought it doesn’t seem like the most groundbreaking story ever, it does seem interesting. Great review!


  12. I loved this book, so it’s a shame you didn’t, but I can see where you’re coming from.

    I wouldn’t classify this as fantasy, unless madeup historical books are counted as fantasy nowadays, because there is nothing that is UNREAL in here. No magic, no dragons (you get my gist). I really have no idea how to classify this book at all.

    And I get what you mean about Arin. He doesn’t seem very affected by his slave situation, and I think it lended a bit of lightness to the situation, which may be viewed not very fondly.

    I think this would make a gorgeous movie in terms of visualisation, because the world building was so gorgeous!


  13. Pingback: Mini Review: Bridge of Snow (Winner’s Trilogy, #0.5) by Marie Rutkoski | Hit or Miss Books

  14. Pingback: Review: The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy, #3) by Marie Rutkoski | Hit or Miss Books

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