Sep 10, 2015

A story of love and lies || The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski



Title : The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Release Date:March 4th 2014
Publisher : Square Fish
Synopsis:

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

They were never meant to be together. As a general's daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can't help but fall in love.

In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.Set in a new world, The Winner's Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.



The Winner's Curse is set in a dystopian world where one empire has defeated another in war, and has currently enslaved the defeated people while ruling them in their own country. Kestrel is the daughter of the general of the ruling class. She's more skilled of mind than in weaponry, and is known for her talent in finding out deceits and lies. Yet she is unable to put her finger on the dilemma that is Arin, who is a slave she bought on impulse, and slowly finds herself falling in love with her slave, while both of them try to win the battle between love and loyalty.

I had mixed feelings towards this book. Sure it had a lot of things I loved, but it lacked a "wow" factor that would've blew my mind away. But still, this book also had a lot of potential, and I think it's a terrific series starter, and promises epic things that can happen in the sequels.

I really liked the world building of the book. There was a stable backstory for both societies - the rulers and the enslaved - with importance given to both of their culture. I liked the fact that these had a hint of my own culture - the Valorians ate by hand and were known for their spices and the Herrani gave importance to ancient literature, and called their mother "Amma" which has the same meaning in my language as well ( Which was a pleasant surprise) I didn't know whether it was intentional or not, but I still enjoyed the rich culture portrayed in The Winner's Curse all the same!


Kestrel was really refreshing as a high fantasy heroine. Not that I don't like the kick ass ones who knows how to wield a sword or kill a man with her bare hands, but I found Kestrel realistic and was able to connect to her. Kestrel was horrible at fighting - and no, she doesn't get any better by the end either. Rather she was a character who had a sharp mind and won fights through wits not weapons. She was a great observer, and had great tact when it comes to lies, deception and outer appearance.

“The god of lies must love you, you see things so clearly.” 


“Kestrel could read an expression as if looking through shifting water to see the grainy bottom, the silt rising or settling, the dart of a fish.” 

But at the same time, I wished that her character was more nefarious. She had the potential to be one, and it was as if her talent was wasted for most of the book because she was constantly confused and was in conflict. But I like to think that she'll be what I expect her to be in the sequel, from what the sneak peek of Winner's Crime has showed me so far!



“Kestrel's cruel calculation appalled her. This was part of what had made her resist the military: the fact that she could make decisions like this, that she did have a mind for strategy, that people could be so easily become pieces in a game she was determined to win...” 

Arin, my poor poor baby. He came off as super arrogant - even as a slave - and too cold at first, but I started to warm up to him gradually, and by the end of the book I wanted to hug him so tightly! He became as vulnerable in the end as much as he was impossible in the beginning and I loved the transition. 

The romance. *sighs* One of the significant aspects this book promised was a great ship. I think it did do justice to that promise, but at the same time, I had a few minor problems with Arin and Kestrel's romance. It was a slow burn, a forbidden romance but I expected more feels, more emotion. Most of all, I wanted more angst! 

“She remembered how her heart, so tight, like a scroll, had opened when Arin kissed her. 
It had unfurled.
If her heart were truly a scroll, she could burn it. 
It would become a tunnel of flame, a handful of ash. 
The secrets she had written inside herself would be gone. No one would know” 


“For once he didn't stop himself. The pressure of song was too strong, the need for distraction too great. Then he found that the music caged behind his closed teeth was the melody Kestrel had played for him months ago. He felt the sensation of it, low and alive on his mouth. 
For a moment, he imagine it wasn't the melody that touched his lips, but Kestrel.” 

I also should mention that the ending of The Winner's Curse is amazing! I personally think that it uplifted the whole book for me! Especially since the book almost fell victim to the draggy-middle-part syndrome:)

Overall, The Winner's Curse is a great read. Did I love it? No. But would I read the sequel? Of course yes! There was a sneak peek by the end of this book, and I am already half in love with The Winner's Crime. Is this book worth reading? I would say yes. If you ask me, The Winner's Curse might not be a terrific read itself, but I have a feeling that it's a stepping stone for a series which is bound to be awesome - a lot like Throne of Glass, which itself was a mediocre book, but things escalated quickly!


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