The Winner's Curse
By: Marie Rutkoski
Published By: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: April 10th 2014
Page Count: 369
Source: Purchased by reviewer
In a society reminiscent of the the Roman Empire, Kestrel is the daughter of a General - a conquering hero. She is expected either to marry or join the military, but Kestrel has other ideas, preferring music to martial arts.
Visiting the market with a friend, Kestrel is persuaded to visit the slave auction. To everyone's surprise, hers most of all, she buys a male slave who shows spirit and defiance.
This is where the curse of the title comes in. When you bid on something and win, you've paid more than anyone else was willing to. Whether or not that gamble will pay off, is the nature of the curse.
Arin has not always been a slave. He remembers a time when his people were free. Kestrel was meant to be an opportunity, nothing more, but Arin finds himself drawn to his new mistress. Kestrel discovers that Arin knows more than your average slave, and has had a level of education similar to her own. The two develop a grudging respect and eventual friendship, but politics, and Arin's secret agenda, might ruin everything.
Kestrel is a great character. Smart, sassy and strong, when things start going badly for her she stands up and fights and insists on helping those she cares about, no matter the risk to herself.
Arin is determined to end the slavery of his people, but he acts according to his conscience, not allowing the end to justify the means.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The relationship between Arin and Kestrel develops beautifully and realistically, but doesn't overshadow the political intrigue. The tension builds throughout and the event that could have been the climax of the story is in fact just the middle, and we get to see quite a bit of the aftermath. This allows for a truly surprising ending that will leave you reaching immediately for the next book in the series.
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.