The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)


The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)

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.”

– Taken from Goodreads (

I’d like to thank Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I’d like to start this review by saying that this was cover love at first sight. The cover is just gorgeous, and I hope that the covers for the next books follow this pattern.

Some of the reviews I’ve seen for this book mention the fact that there was not much going on. While that’s true in terms of action, I felt this to be untrue in terms of plot. Granted, the action only really started toward the end of the book. However, before that, we get to see the stage being set so that the action could take place, and that was something I enjoyed.

Another thing that I enjoyed were the scenes focusing on the history of that empire. As someone who really enjoys History, it nice to learn how this empire came to be. Furthermore, there were some politics in it, which I also enjoyed (I’m graduated in International Relations, so I really like seeing how things got to that point before the action begins).

As for the characters, I felt a bit sorry for Kestrel. Granted, she is strong, but not in a way her father, the General, would appreciate. She is smart and can think strategically, but she is not cut out for the actual military life and its rigours. As for Arin, he has been through a lot in life, and that is made painfully clear at the end. I did like him, but I liked Kestrel best. In my opinion, Arin lacked a bit of background (maybe we’ll get that in the next book?)

The one thing that didn’t convince me that much was the romance between them. It felt both too easy (a slave and his owner? Some issues to be dealt with before any romance can take place) and too sudden.

Given the way this ended, I will most definitely be reading the next book in the series.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5


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