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.
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.
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!