Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Publication Date: March 4th 2014
Format // Source: Finished Copy, For Review
Find: Amazon || Goodreads
Summary: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.After all the hype surrounding this book I was extremely dubious to try The Winner's Curse, less so because I thought it wouldn't be good; the main reason being whether my expectations would be fulfilled and I would come out of the book feeling even more disappointed than if I hadn't managed to get my hands on it in the first place, because I did want to own it: look at that cover. But oh my goodness this book was amazing. The fact that I stayed up all night to finish it in one sitting dubs it one of the best books I've read in 2014 - I only stay up all night reading five star books, and this was a five star book for definite. It was just after midnight when I finished it, the first word that sprang to mind was a variation of a swear word, I sat there for a good ten minutes staring at the book, then I let myself collapse onto my pillow and close my eyes to let my inner emotions explode like fireworks. The ending was a killer. Rutkoski's way of writing was like nutrients to a growing plant; expanding the story and the characters in every dimension and the intricately crafted plot clung to my like a spider's web. I honestly did not want this book to end.
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. -goodreads
Finally, finally, a book interweaving a romance that did not annoy me, a romance that did not blossom over night, after a few minutes, or even a few days: Kestrel and Arin's relationship was a carriage bumping over potholes, jolting over ruts and occasionally, sailing smoothly over flat ground; but never for very long. The spark that kindled between them was never given the chance to ignite fully and flame, their responsibilities held them back and that was what made this book so refreshingly different: both characters made sure that their heart never fully ruled their head - their mind was always in the game and with their lives both being full of turmoil, overshadowed by war and personal goals; their desires never ran free.
The characters were not your average YA heroines/heroes, Kestrel wasn't the typical bold, strong-willed, ruthless and driven protagonist - but she wasn't weak either. She was tactical, cunning, thoughtful and driven when she saw fit. She knows she isn't the best at fighting, but even her father understands her eye for detail when coming up with a plan.
This is the type of fantasy I would read every day if I could. The Winner's Curse soared above my expectations with ease and pounded at the door to my heart with it's smoldering romance, well-paced plot and characters you cannot help but root for all the way, whatever path they may choose to follow. Think sword fights, sleek dresses, rising war and a plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end - when your emotions hit you with one punch and you fall off your chair onto the floor; because the ending will do that to you. It will. ★★★★★
Thank you a hundred times over to the lovely publicists at Bloomsbury for sending me a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. I need the next book now. A gif to sum up my feelings for this book.