Reasons You MUST Read The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse 

by Marie Rutkoski

To be published on March 4, 2014 
by Farrar Straus and Giroux

Source: Thanks to FSG/Macmillan for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book.

Connect with the author: website | Twitter | Facebook.

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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. 
You've probably already heard of The Winner's Curse, but I'm here to tell you why this is book is a must-read for spring 2014!

The Story World
The setting of this book is a fascinating one, loosely based on ancient Rome. (I'm wondering if Kestrel's father, General Trajan, was based on the this Trajan, a famous Roman Emperor who greatly expanded his empire through conquest and building projects. However, the real Trajan was childless, so perhaps not.) A little bit fantasy, a little bit historical fiction, this story world blends just the right amount of make believe with just the right amount of historical detail in a way that should please fans of both genres. However, if you're not a fan of historical fiction or fantasy, don't worry -- this world isn't one that takes a glossary and a ton of Google searches to figure out.

The Characters
Kestrel and Arin are a fascinating pair. On the surface, they're an aristocratic girl and her slave, but there's much, much more to these two. I don't want to say too much, but I was so pleased by the complexity of the character development in the book. Each of these characters is appealing yet flawed. Neither is purely admirable. Both have surprises in store for one another, and for the reader.

Twists, Turns and Reversals
Power is definitely an underlying theme of the book, and power shifts back and forth and in many different ways. I love a writer who is confident enough to show her hand to the reader rather than just spring a bunch of surprises on me at the end. This book uses a third person POV that allows the reader insight into what both Kestrel and Arin are thinking and feeling and doing. For me, this really added to the suspense.

The Romance
Hooray for a slow-burn, triangle-free YA romance! Of course, I'm not saying that Kestrel and Arin will have a smooth and easy road to happiness --  in many ways they are the unlikeliest of couples and I know there will be plenty of complications and obstacles along the way.

A Perfect Balance
To me, this book has a winning balance of elements. The Winner's Curse has romance, political intrigue, drama, suspense, great plotting and beautiful writing. Whether you're a fantasy reader or not, I wholeheartedly recommend that you try this book!

Want a chance to win a copy? The Winner's Curse blog tour is going on right now -- you can enter to win at each of these stops!


  1. I LOVED this book. It's still on the top of my list for 2014. It worked for me on every level and is one of the few books that I think deserved the fancy ARC's and pre-release hype.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  2. I loved this one too! I actually did a Mark Your Calendar's post where I listed my ten reasons to read the book--I had to start talking about it even tho the release was still a couple of months away. It really is the total package--characters, setting, story, romance, all of it :)

  3. I enjoyed this book a lot too (maybe it had a little too much hype for my taste but I have issues with hype in general). I didn't think of it but I liked how easy it was to get absorbed in the world and not to have to be referencing a glossary (I'm thinking of Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer with all of its terms, which led to me struggling to get through it.)

    I am wondering if a love triangle might develop in the second book with the introduction of a new man to Kestrel's life (seriously this is the big pending question for me as we wait).

  4. Ugh everyone's saying how much they love this book and I'm so excited to start this one as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. People have been raving over romance, characters, and plot, and I love how there's a great balance between all the aspects in the book. All this hype is really exciting me lol. Fantastic review, Jen! <33

  5. Not too much longer will I have this book in my possession :)

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed The Winner's Curse, Jen! I'm so excited over it, I've heard such amazing things about the writing. It's wonderful to have a book that balances so well al its elements. Great review, Jen. :)

  7. Alright, alright, I'll read it. :) I've been hearing amazing things about this book. This is the first review I've actually read, but the star ratings my GR friends have been giving this is consistently 4 and 5 stars. I'm excited to dive in. Great review!

  8. I've heard so much about this book and your reasons for reading it only make me want to read it more then I already did. I hope I love it even half as much as you seemed to!

  9. I pre-ordered this one, so I'm just waiting for my copy to come so that I can read and review it. After reading your thoughts I would say buying a copy was a good choice since I love books like this! Hopefully I will like it just as much as you did. :)

  10. Yay, for triangle-free romance, indeed. I'm absolutely salivating for this book. I love the implications of Roman Empire history.

    Wonderful review, Jen.

  11. I am def looking forward to this one, the world building and great characters sounds amazing.

  12. Okay, this is only the 2nd time I've come across this book, but I have determined that I NEED to read it. Wow, it sounds amazing!

  13. I have a huge cover crush for The Winner's Curse! And the main characters' names are really uique and nice, this probably sounds weird but I have a thing for unique character names lol.
    This looks a really great read so I'm adding this to my TBR and wait for it to be published. :D
    - Farzy @ Books Keep Me Sane

  14. If I wasn't already convinced that this would be a perfect book for me, I'd be convinced after reading this. I did not know this was more historical fantasy than pure fantasy. Honestly, I like my fantasy any which-way, but fantasy with a slight basis in history (ancient Rome here, it sounds like??) is always pretty cool. I'm definitely looking forward to this one. :)

  15. Oh man, every review I have a read of just increases my want for this book. IT SOUNDS SO GOOD. Especially the romance! Slow burning + no love triangle? GIMME THE BOOK ALREADY!

  16. Oh boy. I just read this book last night! And OMG, I want more.

  17. Oh hey, I know the name Trajan! (One of the kids I watched was in fact named after the ROman Emperor.) So burn and love triangle free is just what I want to hear. I've been dying to read this one and can't wait for it to come out in a couple weeks!

  18. Yes, yes, yes!!! I loved this book so much. It was so beautifully written and what an ENDING! Dying for the next book!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  19. Ahhhh, thank you for putting this book on my radar, it's just my type of book. I'm such a sucker for Roman history, and when it's mixed with fantasy...*grabby hands*.

    Joy @ Thoughts By J

  20. A little bit of fantasy and a little bit of history? This sounds like something right up my alley! :) I'm dying to read this book. Thank you for posting the lovely review!

    Precious @ Fragments of Life

  21. This one didn't appeal to me at first but after all the raving reviews I'm definitely going to give it a try. And love triangle free is always a plus!

  22. The hype surrounding this book has me worried but so many trusted bloggers are saying to give it a chance so I will. Also, can we please applaude about the fact that this book was a slow burn romance like you said and is love triangle free? YAAAAAAY!
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

  23. Haven't read it but I must say that it does sound interesting. Maybe I will check it out.

    Thanks anyway for this post!

  24. Yes to all your reasons! It really is one of the best YA books I've read in recent years, and it's totally deserving of all the hype. One thing, though...did you not at all fear the presence of a triangle in the next book due to the events at the end of TWC? I mean, we KNOW where Kestrel's heart lies, but still. And for the life of me, I feel like I saw a piece of the manuscript for book 2 and there were scribbles with dialogue from the other guy that made me VERY curious. But I don't know where that was or if I made it up in my head because I was afraid TWC was just too perfect. Totally sounds like something I might do, lol.


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