Review: “The Winners Curse” – Marie Rutkoski

March 25, 2015 Book Review, Initial Reaction 4

Review: “The Winners Curse” – Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
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Published on: March 4th 2014
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 355
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: eBook

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This book is part of the The Winner’s Trilogy. You can find reviews for the rest of the books below:
The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)
The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2)
The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3)


The Story(summary from Goodreads)

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.

Initial Reaction


My Thoughts
I really like it when I start a new series that I absolutely love and I get that very excited happy feeling knowing that there are more books to come. I don’t know why I’ve held off on this series for so long, but very happy that I finally got round to it.

I really like books that give me an excuse to use my imagination, and the world building in this book was extraordinary. I especially liked the two cultures of Harrani and Valorian and their history of when the Valorian conquered the Harrani and took control over their land making them slaves. I really loved learning all the little things about each culture, plus their differences, with the Harrani’s love for arts and music whilst the Valorian’s focus is very much on their military. It really was a fascinating world to be invited into and I can’t wait to (hopefully) learn more about the cultures and see more of the world in the following books.

“Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”

I really liked Kestrel, she was a very strong character who always stuck to her heart. It didn’t matter to her that music was only something that Harrani slaves should be interested in, she enjoyed it and so she would play as often as possible. She was also an extremely clever character though, and so her decision making process, between the smart thing to do and the thing that her heart was telling her to do, was very fascinating to see.

Arin was quite a mystery throughout this book, and although we get alternative POVs between him and Ketrel, he didn’t seem to share many of his secrets until a lot further into the book, which kept us guessing the entire time. His loyalty to his people is unwavering, and he really would do anything for them which can lead to some quite brutal actions, but then it is the quiet moments when he shows his heart that makes him a character that we can’t help but fall in love with.

“My soul is yours,” he said. “You know that it is.”

The thing I really liked about their relationship was that it wasn’t your typical ‘Romeo & Juliet’ style forbidden romance. It wasn’t two teenagers filled with lust, it was two very clever individuals who were brought together by their understanding of each other, which then developed into a friendship that neither of them could deny. I really liked the slow development of their relationship and their strugges of who they wanted to be over who they were expected to be really got to me and made them a couple that kept my heat in a frienze the entire way through the book.

“Arin wondered if she would lift her eyes, but wasn’t worried he would be seen in the garden’s shadows.
He knew the law of such things: people in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.” 

This book is one long intense build up and I absolutely loved every single minute of it. Normally I think I would just get angry that it’s taking too long to get to the exciting bit, but with this book the build up is the exciting bit. It’s slow and it’s intense and I literally could not put this book down. I felt my heart rate getting faster with each chapter and that funny butterfly feeling in my tummy as I knew we were getting closer to the moment I had been waiting for. I can’t praise Marie Rutkoski enough for her writing skill in this book, it was phenomenal.

“Nothing in dreams can hurt you.”

This book was very very cleverly written. There were times when I thought I knew where it was going or what some one was thinking, only to find out that I was totally wrong. Strategy was a very important part of Kestrel and Arin’s relationship firstly through a game and then in a real life scenario and I’ve never read a book with characters with minds like theirs, which I found really interesting. It was clever and it was complex and that ending was just … well, it was a fabulous and totally heartbreaking way to end the first book in a series!

“Isn’t that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?


Final Thoughts

This book had my full attention on page one and kept it all the way the end. The action, the romance, the intensity, it all kept my heart beating twice as fast the entire time. I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read it, but the one positive is that I can now go straight into book 2!

Re-Readability: Most Definitely.

I would recommend this book to fans of: YA Fantasy series, forbidden romances, erm… Everyone!

Have you read The Winners Curse? What did you think?

Who would you recommend it to?

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4 Responses to “Review: “The Winners Curse” – Marie Rutkoski”

  1. chucklesthescot

    This one sounds kind of intriguing! My one concern is that if it’s a bit slow to get started, I might not stick with it long enough to get into it. Mind you, it’s useful to know things like that in advance as I might be a bit more patient than usual! Great review!

    • Brocs Bookcase

      Don’t let the potentially slow start put you off. It might just be me who thinks that anyway! But you should definitely check this one out! I can’t recommend it enough.

  2. Vania

    Honestly, after reading your review, I kind of attracted to this book.
    The cover looks beautiful! But most importantly, I love YA Dystopian and I love slow building relationship because it feels more natural and not too cliche.
    Thankyou for the review! ??

    • Brocs Bookcase

      YEAY! I love this book and so I am super happy to hear that I might have persuaded you to check it out. I know, slow building relationships are my favourite too, and this one is definitely that! I really hope you get round to reading it soon and absolutely LOVE it! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my review!