Review: The Winner’s Curse

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 2 of 5 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. 

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.

Beware spoilers ahead!


I’d been hearing about this book for months. At the time I saw all the good reviews from so many of my friends. I gave in and decided to request from the library. Then back in early January I’d started hearing about the bad reviews. Hesitant I went on iBooks to read a sample. I didn’t like what I read.

The book begins with Kestrel doing some shopping with her best friend Jess. Her and Jess have separated. She finds Jess at a jewelry booth. Jess holds up a pair of earring and asks for Kestrel’s opinion. Kestrel says that the earrings are fake. The woman selling them is a slave. Kestrel realizing that this woman would get in trouble for lying to them fake inspects them and claims that she was mistaken. Jess buys the earrings and leaves.

The two get lost and find themselves at an auction booth. Selling slaves. Having no way to turn back they have no choice but to remain. During the auction the man brings out a slave that reminds Kestrel of herself. Something about the way he defies the man whose selling him. Out of nowhere she decides to buy him. She wins because she offered to pay the most money.

I’m going to stop right there. The reason I did not read further is because this is not a book for me. I prefer my fantasies with some supernatural aspects to it. This book seems to be more of a dystopian then a fantasy. There is a lot of focus on the politics. Giving you the idea that it is a political and romance book. And personally speaking I do not enjoy political books. This book is also based off of some history. I believe it’s Roman history. When the Romans invaded Greece and took over they took some of the Greek as slaves.

I also felt that Kestrel was selective about her sympathy for the slaves. She did care about the slaves outside of her house like the woman from the beginning and Arin. But she didn’t really think about the slaves in her house. Maybe she does much later on in the book.

I did like some things. There is no insta-love. Which I was happy about. I thought she bought Arin because he was good looking. The writing style was nice. And I liked the friendship between Jess and Kestrel. And the complicated relationship between Kestrel and her father. I didn’t read enough about Arin so I have nothing to say about him. Kestrel while selective of her sympathy was smart and made some good points. I liked how the author wrote her as a piano player. It’s nice to read about characters who love music.

Overall this book is not for me. But I still recommend it to others. It does develop into a better series with good plot and character development and I don’t think it should be missed. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did!

View all my reviews


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