Author: Marie Rutkowski (Twitter)
Publisher: FSG BYR
Publish Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: YA, Fantasy
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.
The Winner's Curse is, perhaps, one of the most highly anticipated and touted books of the spring season around the blogosphere. And, with a stunning cover and an addictingly promising premise, how could it not be? Time and again though, we've sen this recipe for success fail, and I've kept my guard up and my extreme reservations close to the vest until I finally reached to pick up this novel. I am so excited to say that this novel defied even my reservations and is sure to be on the list of many a blogger's favorite books of this season. Rich, imaginative, colourful and wholly inviting, this novel is not only gorgeous to look at - but also gorgeous to read.
The world within the pages of The Winner's Curse is utterly unique and original. Readers are offered a story that evokes images of a sort of historical fantasy novel, complete with generals, war heroes and slaves. However, the novel isn't exactly inspired by a specific historical time period, which makes it even more so unique. The pages spin a world that is expertly realized and comes to fruition, giving us a sort of remained sort of history that is both accessible and haunting, if only because it offers us tidbits of the familiar, as well. From the start, we're drawn into a world that is so hauntingly realistic and mesmerizing, that it's easy to forget reality and simply accept the world within the pages as our own.
The characters of The Winner's Curse well deserve the spotlight, and it's easy to access and empathize with our heroine, Kestrel. There is an innocence about Kestrel that makes her endearing, if only because it reminds us of our own humanity, as well. A general's daughter, she has two choices: join the army, or marry. Neither appeals to her, and when she finds a slave up for auction with whom she feels an innate bond, she buys him. I was wary of her though, because too often we receive self-entitled characters who are headstrong without a semblance of common sense. Kestrel, however, is observant, thoughtful and painstakingly honest, which makes it easy to relate to and bond with her. It must be said, too, that the supporting characters each play a strong and vivid role in the novel, and none seemed remotely superfluous.
One of the things about The Winner's Curse that I was most appreciative was the fact that the romance blooms slowly and carefully, unfurling like the petals of a rose. We learn about our characters before we learn about the bond between them, and we understand their motives and vulnerabilities before we see them find a common ground. Arin was a powerful character, but he was created with a careful, steady hand. There is a deep, aching pain that emanates from his being, as well as a subtle air of anger and resentment from his situation, but it's all very real, which makes the relationship between Kestrel and Arin that much stronger.
Though I felt that the setup of The Winner's Curse took time at the start, the novel picks up speed toward the latter half, and we're offered a painstakingly beautiful novel that will inevitably have your heart in the end, as well. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy historical fantasy and well-crafted world building.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.