The Winner’s Curse
By Marie Rutkoski
Publication date: March 4, 2014
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 368 pages
In the tradition of Kristin Cashore and Cassandra Clare comes this brilliant, unputdownable, star-crossed romance about the curse of winning.
Seventeen-year-old Kestrel is an aristocratic citizen of Valoria, a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Here, a girl like Kestrel has two choices: join the military or get married. Despite her skills in military strategy, Kestrel’s real passion is music.Which is why she feels compelled to buy Arin, a slave with a talent for singing, at auction. It’s not long before she finds herself falling in love with Arin, and he seems to feel the same for her. But Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for Arin is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of 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.
— Goodreads.com description
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a Romeo and Juliet story – but better.
Like the title pair in Shakespeare’s classic story, Kestrel and Arin have no hope of being together. They’re from feuding lands. Her dad’s the head of one side’s military, and he’s loyal to the other side.
Oh, yeah, and he’s her slave.
So, it’s basically hopeless. Just reading it, you’re like, “Yeah. This is unsolvable. There is no way for this situation to work.” It’s really extremely clever on Rutkowski’s part.
I rooted for Kestrel and Arin to work through the impossible in a way I never did with stupid, lusty Romeo and Juliet. Because it’s not lust (well, not only). You actually see their relationship develop and grow and there’s no denying they’re extremely well suited for one another.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance so hopeless but so lovely. It felt nice to root for them and to feel so … tragic. This book got me in the gut!
Beyond the romance, all the small elements that went into building their cultures were really brilliantly put together. It’s a complex world, and I loved my time in it.
Definitely a new one for my favorites shelf!