Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Publication date: 3rd July 2014
My rating: 4 stars.
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.
“My Soul is yours”... “You know that it is”
After reading several glowing reviews for this book I was expecting to read a gorgeous story, normally when I have high expectations going into a book, the book never usually lives up to them. So I was glad for once that The Winner’s Curse delivered everything I was hoping and so much more.
Rutkoski really outdone herself in creating such a complex and elegant world in The Winner’s Curse, there was enough detail to make this world truly believable, but also not so much to overwhelm you with too much detail. We are first introduced to our two main characters Arin and Kestrel at an auction. Arin is the slave up for action and Kestrel not intending to make a purchase ends up leaving with a slave worth more than the money in her purse. Not that money is an issue, being the General Trajan’s daughter. But Arin is a blacksmith (rare to find these days) so she knows despite her outrageous bid, her father shouldn’t be too displeased with her buy. With this significant divide (Arin being the slave and Kestrel his owner, you would think that this would be reason enough for these two characters to loathe one another, but Arin was a Herrani and Kestrel a Valorian and the bad history could be dated back to ages ago. The last war had given the Valorian control, but the grudge between the two had not been easily forgotten. However this is one of the reasons that I adored Kestrel, despite being the general’s daughter, she wasn’t quick to take her place that was required by her (be married or join the military) she was never a good fighter, she knew the stuff she needed if anything ever happened, but she preferred playing her piano and underneath her beauty she really was an intelligent individual. Intelligent that she didn’t make judgements about Arin, or even listen to the gossip, that was going on about her.
The interactions between Arin and Kestrel were slow but steady going, but I truly appreciated the way Rutkoski weaved their relationship into the story. Both Arin and Kestrel weren’t immediately trustworthy with each other and their feelings didn’t appear immediately, but appeared to bloom slowly like a flower until it was tugging at my heart strings. But for some reason at the beginning I wasn’t a huge fan of this relationship, this may have been largely because I sort of viewed Arin as a boy, he was two years older than Kestrel, but some of his actions hadn’t really had me convinced that he was mature enough. I don’t even think that is the right word. But after one of the major things that happened halfway through which forced Arin to behave differently, this character which came through some may not have liked, but I liked the growth that he went through. For me he truly went on and became the man I was hoping he would be from the beginning.
The Winner’s Curse overall was a gorgeous read, but I much preferred the second half, there was more chaos, destruction, secrets, heartbreak and scheming going on. Rutkoski really knew how to mix this up really well, despite so much going on, I found myself fully invested in this story. Also like Kestrel I found myself torn about how I wanted things to go, it was so hard with some of the decisions she had to make (at points she reminded me of Celaena and what she had to deal with in Crown of Midnight). There was also lot of heart crushing in the second half, but this did definitely help me form a strong emotional attachment with the characters. Overall The Winner’s Curse was an absolutely gorgeous read, Rutkoski covered so many different elements that it’s a sure book that would appeal to all kinds of readers. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book and what Rutkoski will put us through next.