The Winner’s Curse (Marie Rutkoski)


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.

I’ve had this book for over a year, since I won it at a giveaway sometime last year, but it had been sitting on my shelf. Well, I decided it was time to read it, and I’m so so glad I did. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it sure as hell wasn’t what I got, and I loved the book way more than I thought I would.

The writing was great and fluid, it made the book easy to follow, even throughout the world building. Again, this was fairly easy to understand, with plenty of parallelisms to make it relatable and the rules easy to get. I liked this. I liked that a lot of time went by, the plot flowed well, there were no major huge moments that moved the plot along (except once or twice), but mostly things happened slowly, as they should. I think that most YA suffers from trying to fit the plot in a short period of time, and here I think that The Winner’s Curse did it perfectly.

Like most fantasy, the book is told on the third person, and mostly through Kestrel POV, though it sometimes has some passages from Arin’s POV, which was great, and I could have used some more of those.


Kestrel! I freaking loved this girl! Yes! At last one main character who doesn’t like to fight, doesn’t want to learn it, it’s bad at it even though she’s been training for years, and all she really wants is to be left alone with her piano. I loved this. I also loved how smart this girl was, because even though she didn’t like to fight, she did have an amazing scheming brain, and she used it well and often.

Arin was a bit of a mystery for most of the book, but I did like him, and I understood him completely. I think that because the book is mainly told through Kestrel’s POV, we (readers) forget a bit that the invasion wasn’t that long ago, and that the Herrani did nothing to provoke it, and yet, they were invaded, killed, enslaved. I admired Arin for his strength and determination.


This is also why I shipped them from the start. I saw a few reviews of how people didn’t get the romance, and well… I do. These are two people who are super strong on their own, that see a situation that they don’t agree with, but they don’t really know another reality, and they’re trying to make the right things as they go along. It didn’t bothered me one bit what Arin did, but I did like that he tried to be better after that.

I really liked the plot and how it was structured. Again, I thought it was well paced and it made so much sense for me. I loved that each character was true to themselves, even through everything. Loved everything about it. At first I was really hating on the Valorians, but by the end? I was kind of thinking that the Herrani weren’t that much better. And this? YES! Because people are not perfect, not all good or bad, and I think their societies should reflect that exact thing.


As you can understand by all the positives I just spewed, I really really enjoyed this one, and I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2 and 3, and I hope they’re as epic as this one. Also, I can’t wait to see how they’re solve stuff, because it isn’t looking very good.

15 thoughts on “The Winner’s Curse (Marie Rutkoski)

  1. Megan @ bookslayerReads says:

    Fabulous review! I need to read this soon. I don’t know why I haven’t yet… I’ve heard so many great things about it!

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