Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Thoughts on The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Thank goodness this books lives up to its stunning cover! The Winner’s Curse was a fantastic read and I cannot wait for the sequel!


Series: The Winner’s Trilogy, Book 1

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4.5 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.


Thank goodness this books lives up to its stunning cover! The Winner’s Curse was a fantastic read and I cannot wait for the sequel!

The first half of the book is very solid. It starts quickly with mystery and intrigue, and soon the world building and character development begins. I loved the world this book takes place in and the dynamic between the two people, the Herrani and the Valorians, who are based off of the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans, respectively. However, this fantasy world combines many different eras and cultures into one, and although it is based off historical themes it is not historically accurate.

For example, Kestrel, the main character, is obsessed with music, specifically her shiny black piano, which of course did not exist in the Greco-Roman world. However, I loved this aspect of the book, and it is why I have chosen The Winner’s Curse to count for the “A Book with Music” category in the School YA Bingo Challenge I am participating in.

The Winner’s Curse revolves around a slave-master relationship during a time of rebellion and uprising. Of course, there are many ways this can go wrong and turn sour, both for the characters and for the reader. In the beginning, I was slightly scared that this would happen, especially since I had no love for Arin, Kestrel’s new slave boy. It seemed that their budding “relationship” was actually only a one-sided thing, with Kestrel developing a crush but Arin merely continuing on with his rebellious plans.

I took a short hiatus from this book to focus fully on midterm studying. When I came back, it was surprisingly easy to pick the book back up and finish it. After the pause, I dove back in and absolutely loved both characters, and the continuing plot and second climax at the end. The fantastic, but utterly cliff-hanger ending leaves you needing the next book, The Winner’s Crime, which comes out on March 3rd, 2015. I can’t wait! Although I was hesitant at first, Kestrel and Arin’s story is not one to miss!

This book counts for the School YA Bingo Challenge (in the category of “A Book with Music”). 


4 comments on “Gwen’s Thoughts on The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

  1. Peter
    January 24, 2015

    I really like the way you hook us in with a quick intro of your review before all of the book information stuff. Well done!

    • gwenkate
      January 24, 2015

      Thanks Peter! I do it mostly so that some of my review appears in the excerpt on the home page instead of the series and genre information, but I’m glad you like it! ~Gwen

  2. Pingback: School YA Bingo Challenge: BINGO!! (#1) | Gwen & Kate's Library

  3. Pingback: School YA Bingo Challenge FINALE!! | Gwen & Kate's Library

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This entry was posted on January 24, 2015 by in Author: Gwen, Review, School YA Bingo Challenge, Young Adult and tagged , .
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