The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again! I recently picked up this series, and decided to start it now!

“The truth can deceive as well as a lie.”

Stars (Out of 10): 9.5/10

Overall Thoughts: This was definitely a great book to end my reading slump with. It was extremely unique from the recent books I read in my opinion, from the inner battles the characters faced, to how the plot was carried out, and the state the world was in at the time. I also enjoyed the writing style of the book, as it kept me drawn in when so many books have been unable to for a while now!


The Good: Can I just say everything? I loved both the villains and the heroes(?). I also liked how as a reader, there seemed to be so many sides to pick from, and all of them having reasons why they are an okay side to be on. You can cheer for the Herrani’s and their fight against oppression, you can cheer for the Valorians and their quest to maintain control, or even for Kestrel, and her attempt to find a medium between the two. I also loved how not even the characters knew what side they wanted to fight for, dealing with inner battles of sacrifice, heartache, love, and hardships. We see promises broken and kept, people betrayed and surprised. Overall, an unpredictable rollercoaster I was happy I just rode.

The Bad: If I scrutinize the small things, I would find that the end did drag a bit towards the end, and made it seem more like the middle of the book, rather than a few chapters until an end. Besides that, there wasn’t much I disagreed with.

The Characters: This was definitely one of my favorite parts of the book. I enjoyed the original twist of Arin being placed, and working for the auctioneer. But mainly, I loved the inner battles we saw Kestrel and Arin face, and whether their feelings were enough to switch sides, or if their duty to their kingdoms reigned supreme. The first book left us hanging in that regard, and I’m extremely curious of where it will go! (However, I am very cautious of Kestrel and this new emperor’s son, I need more of Arin and Kestrel instead!!!)

The Plot: I honestly did not expect the plot to pick up as quickly as it did, with the Herrani rebellion occurring in book one. While I didn’t originally wish for that plot to be expended as soon as it was, I actually ended up enjoying that fact, as it allowed for book one to also build up book two, while still being super interesting in it’s own merit!

The World Building: This was phenomenal in my opinion. I learned so much of both the ways of Herrani and Valorian, as the author seemed to truly try to make these kingdoms and their customs different from just your cut and dry kingdom. This definitely contributed to showing us the differences between the two cultures, and how the erasement of an entire culture had such a huge impact on the lands and it’s people. (Also super happy that the plot allowed for both to be shown in power, giving us insight into the culture of both!!!)

The Favorite Character: Kestrel!

Buy it, Borrow it, or Bin it: Buy it!


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