4 star

The Winner’s Curse

The Winner’s Trilogy, Book #1

By Marie Rutkoski

ISBN# 9780374384685

Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi

the-winners-curse-the-winners-trilogyIt’s been ten years since the Herran War.  The Valorian army led by General Trajan, who happens to be our leading lady, Kestrel’s, father won the territory.  Instead of killing all the Herrani survivors, they made them their slaves.

Seventeen year old Kestrel finds herself at the slave auction by accident, as the thought of buying another human sickens her.  But she can’t look away from the slave on the auction block, Smith.  And, before she knows it, she has bid on him.  After others see the General’s daughter bidding on him they assume he must be worth having and start a bidding war.  But Kestrel ends up winning him, even though her friends believe she’s crazy over paying for a slave like that.

Kestrel learns that Smith’s birth name is actually Arin and forms a friendship with him over time.  The Steward of the house puts Arin to work as their blacksmith making horse shoes and weapons.  But Kestrel has him be her escort whenever she leaves so she doesn’t get in trouble by her father for leaving alone.  She can only go alone if she enlists in the Valorian military, which she has no desire to do.  Kestrel has a strategic mind, but not the fighting skills required in battle.  Her father wants her to enlist, but she ends up making a deal with him to get him off her back.  She will either enlist or marry by the coming spring.

Both Arin and Kestrel eventually fall in love with one another, but the night they finally admit it, is the night Arin’s betrayal is revealed.

This book is not my usual kind of read, but I, on occasion, will read something out of the ordinary for me.  And every once in a while I will love that book that I never would have expected to like.  That is the case with The Winner’s Curse.  My mind is blown that I actually liked not only a Young Adult book, but a Young Adult Fantasy at that!  I had actually dreaded starting it knowing I’d hate it.  Imagine my surprise when I loved it!

Kestrel is a tough ‘bird’, let me tell you!  Guess being raised by a General will do that to you.  She doesn’t take crap from anyone.  And loves taking everyone’s money when playing her favorite game, Bite and Sting!  And, the girl had plenty of guys interested in marriage if she had chosen to go that route!  Girl’s got game apparently.

And Arin. Ah!  I really enjoyed Arin, but knew what he was doing behind everyone’s back was only going to lead to heartbreak!  And, when it all came to a head I even yelled out loud, “Why Arin? Why do you have to be bad?”  Even though I completely understood why he did it, he wanted freedom for himself and his people.  You really can’t fault his motive.  But he made it pretty hard for Kestrel to love him after that. *Sigh*

This book didn’t have the ending I had hoped for, but hopefully it will have that and so much more by the end of the trilogy.  The ending was quite heartbreaking if I’m being honest.

I can’t wait to read the next installment, The Winner’s Crime and see what happens next.  When have I ever looked forward to a sequel to a YA book?  That answer is easy!  Never!  Until now!