The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Review by Ursula
5 out 5 stars
What an amazing book! One of the best I have read this year J I've got to say that it took me by surprise: it’s been a while since a new release by a new author (new to me) swept me off my feet like this. The synopsis was immediately captivating and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it as soon as it was released. I started reading while on vacation and I positively couldn’t put it down. I read every chance I had; while riding in the car, while waiting in line, well you name it!
The world building is fantastic; I was completely immersed in this past time when slavery was very real. Valorians and Harranis has been involved in a war many years before, and Valorians had conquered, usurping Harrani land and properties, and making entire Harrani families slaves, treating them no better than animals because to Valorians that’s what Harranis were, disposable savages that were only there to serve them.
Kestrel finds herself in a predicament when without even planning on it when she ends up buying Arin at an auction, it was an impulse that not even she was sure she understood, but in any case Arin ends up as a slave in her father’s house. Kestrel is already on shaky ground with her Dad as the pressure mounts for her to join the army, something that she really doesn’t want, but then the alternative which is getting married once she becomes of age, isn’t something she is looking forward to either.
Kestrel is stubborn and sometimes proud, but she has a good heart and is a good friend, and is willing to poke around to discover the truth of what surrounds her even if what she finds is not pleasant. I hadn’t read past 5 chapters and I already knew she would be a kick ass protagonist, I mean even her name is perfection! Who wouldn’t want to be called Kestrel? (I know I would!)
This book is dual POV, though we get Kestrel’s much more than we do Arin’s. I really enjoyed that because I think that knowing what Arin was thinking/feeling was crucial to understanding the plot, Kestrel didn’t always read Arin well so having that bit of an inside look into Arin’s mind and heart was great.
The romance between Kestrel and Arin built up slowly and that was one of the things that had me fall for this book, because in all honesty nobody really falls in love at first sight unless you are Cinderella and Prince Charming.
Arin and Kestrel went from disliking each other to being curious about each other, to slowly becoming friends and without even noticing when it happened they were in love. This complicates thing though. Arin is Harrani and a slave at Kestrel’s house and Kestrel is Valorian and the daughter of the General for the Valorian army and therefore off limits for Arin.
Even though Kestrel and Arin trust the feelings they have for each other, it’ll prove really hard to trust as blindly, prejudice has been ingrained into both of them since they were very young, raised to hate one another. It’s not an action packed type of story, but even then the tension and dangers of the very hostile and volatile situation in which they live is very palpable for the reader.And as if that wasn’t enough, Holy Cliffhanger! I’m still swimming, more like drowning, in feels.
A tale about power, politics, high society pressure to conform to the norm, prejudice, injustice, murder and betrayal and forbidden love. You won’t regret picking up this book; it will leave you counting the days to the sequel.
I’ll be meeting Marie next month at her Fierce Reads Miami stop and I am oh so excited! If you have any questions for Marie let us know in the comments on the blog, we will have a recap of the event at www.grownupfangirl.com and ohthebookfeels.com