Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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. ”

That pretty dress and that agony!

That pretty dress and that agony!

Review:

I picked up this book for three reasons –

  1. The blurb about slaves and forbidden love? Sounded quite intriguing really. Because it would have rebels and uprisings. I mean, who doesn’t love that? A little show of ‘the finger’ to the overlords 😛
  2. The cover. I mean just look at the cover and tell me, you wouldn’t have bought it just for that pretty girl in the dress 😀
  3. The expression of agony on the girl’s face. Usually, the cover girl doesn’t really show any sort of expression, their job being only to be a doll, but this girl shows agony and it made wonder what would have happened for her to be in this kind of pain!

Beyond the slave part, I actually did feel that this would be the old sort of story, nothing new and thus, predictable. And I was right. But I also have never enjoyed a predictable book so much before.

Ms.  Rutkoski’s  writing grabs you by the throat and never lets you go and at the last page you are left wanting for more. She has taken one predictable love story and turned into a fight for understanding, trust, faith and loyalty.

I have never once become so invested in a story so fast and so fully (Okay. Yes, I have. But not recently and not within the first few pages). Kestrel, the brilliant daughter of the General of an empire that has ruthlessly taken over and enslaved the proud people known as the Herrani, is both digusted by the slavery and arrogant about her station simultaneously.  As expected, this creates a conflict within her which isn’t helped by the fact that she spent an exorbitant amount on a slave that she didn’t need but somehow wanted. A fire in the eyes of Arin, a rebellious and arrogance in him that belied his ‘station’ that felt familiar to her somehow led her to  

What follows is the story of friendship, loyalty and betrayal. A story that though is predictable, I just couldn’t put down. The slow turning of their relationship from hatred and revulsion to one of affection, love and maybe even respect was actually exhilarating to read. Even when their situation is reversed, the affection and respect, however grudging never really goes away!

I found myself in affinity with Kestrel, from the start. The Kestrel, who warred within herself because her emotions and the society’s dictates told her to want two different things. I admired Arin for the first few chapters. The fact that he held on to his own self – respect even at times when shame and humiliation were his constant companions. And I fell in love with his dignity and integrity, so beautiful in its essence and its worth.

But the best part of this book was their relationship – A relationship that took time to build up, a relationship that wasn’t built on words, but on feelings. (Yes, I understand why talking is also important but still, their relationship bought out my romantic side!). All throughout the book, you don’t read words, but feel their emotions. I absolutely loved how they understood each other, not through words, but through their actions. Through their actions, not words they show how much they mean to each other and that’s the reason why it irritated me that Kestrel made the choice she did. Sure, I understand how and why she made the choice, but this is the reason why I also believe that talking between them was important. (Yes, I also know that if they had talked, the story might have taken a different turn and ended before a trilogy even started!)

Leaving everything aside, Ms. Rutkoski’s writing has actually taken something predictable and blended it into something that I have immensely enjoyed and devoured. Beautiful writing by her has fast – tracked this book into one of my favourite reads this year!

I can’t wait till the Winner’s Crime is released so I can get my hands on the physical copy (I already have the digital one for review and the review will also be up soon!)

Rating and Recommendation:

4/5 Stars (I oscillate between 4 or 4.5 stars but I will go with 4 Stars just for the predictability in the story)

This book, would be recommended for those who love the dyspotian literature with some history thrown in. For those, who love their love stories with a little angst and a lot of feels. But most of all, I would recommend this book for those who read a book, not for the blurb, but for the way author writes, the way they love how an author brings out the beauty in even the most mundane. This book is definitely for them. I assure you, you definitely wont regret it 🙂

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