The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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Summary:

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.

Review:

Well I really enjoyed this book! The first half was a bit too slow paced, but it turned out great in the second half, which really left me speechless.

Happiness depends on being free, Kestrel’s father often said, and freedom depends on being courageous.

When Kestrel buys Arin she doesn’t even know why, maybe because he was sold also as a singer (Kestrel loves music), or because he refused to sing when told to do so; still she feels drawn to him and can’t keep her distance. Now, since I saw some bad reviews about the way the slavery topic is handled in this book, I’m going to say what I thought about it (I’m no expert so I’m just saying what I think). The Herrani became Valorian’s slave 10 years before, because the Empire wanted what the Herrani had in their territory, and so they took it. Kestrel was, like 7 years old, so she obviously had nothing to do with it, but she’s grown having salves in her home. Even though she’s not pro-slavery, she’s not even openly against it at first, but she’s not cruel or mean. And there are little things, little comments, which I took as sarcastic since that seemed the tone and she does fall in love with a slave, that develop her character and show how much she grows to despise slavery, and herself for ignoring the problem for so long.  So, no I don’t think this topic was handled badly, it is so only if you don’t see all the signs that point to an evolution. And if you’re looking for a good and truthful book about slavery maybe you should look for some autobiographies. Kestrel is only 17, she’s not trying to save the world or change it, but she’ll find herself in the middle of it all by falling in love, and will sacrifice a lot in the end.

Arin, who had set hooks into her heart and drawn her to him so that she wouldn’t see anything but his eyes.
Arin was her enemy.

The main characters are well developed, and have interesting backstories, and keep changing throughout the story as the plot puts them together and then against each other over and over again. Arin has his own agenda; and I really loved how their feelings for each other never became an obstacle towards their goals. In a way, Kestrel is the innocent one, but she’s the one with more power, not only because she’s a Valorian, but also because as the general’s daughter, she’s expected to join the military, so she was taught politics and strategies since an early age.

A singer who refused to sing, a friend who wasn’t her friend, someone who was hers and yet would never be hers.
Kestrel looked away from Arin.
She swore to herself that she would never look back.

The relationship between Arin and Kestrel develops a little piece at a time, and it was beautiful to see how helpless they were against their feelings, how they fought them, because there’s no turn of events that can see the two of them together. If one wins, the other loses. And can they turn their backs to their people? Even though, Kestrel believes that Arin’s cause is just, it would mean the end of her family and friends.

The snow fell on her, it fell on him, but Kestrel knew that no single flake could ever touch them both. She didn’t look back when he spoke again. “You don’t, Kestrel, even though the god of lies loves you.”

The book is beautifully written, with lots of twists that will leave you open mouthed, and set a lot of interesting storylines for the next book, The Winner’s Crime which I’m ready to start right now, because that ending really hurt me and I need to know what happens next!

manuela calloway sisters

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