Tuesday, 4 March 2014

ARC Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Pub. Date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 355
Readership: Young adult
Genres: fantasy, historical

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 
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.

Wow. I had heard about The Winner's Curse a while ago but for whatever reason, it wasn't on my radar until I kept seeing everyone talking about it. And I mean everyone. I couldn't ignore it anymore: I read up on the synopsis and read a couple early reviews. I was intrigued. When I got the chance to have my own ARC of it, I jumped.

From all the great reviews I had read, I was really going in with high expectations. Usually, that's not a very good thing but with The Winner's Curse it didn't matter. The book was every bit of amazing as the reviews said, and then some.

Marie created absolutely wonderful characters in this book. Some were easily loved, easily related to and easily hated. Some I was unsure of their motives but liked them anyway and some I just wanted to fall on their sword. Regardless of the type of character they were, there was no one character in this book that was just there. They all had a reason, a place in the story.

I adored Kestrel to bits. At first I was a little unsure of her but that was easily squashed in the first twenty or so pages. She is a girl who knows who she is and what she wants in life and she is such a badass. SUCH a badass. She is cunning, brilliant, clever and not afraid to do what she feels is right. She is also stubborn which is another thing I adored about her. And a little bit blind of her feelings for Arin until the very and and even then... Oh man, I just really loved Kestrel.

I absolutely adored Arin as well. It was hard not to, to be honest. He, like Kestrel, knows who is is and what he wants and will do anything to obtain it. Even through his feelings for Kestrel, he did what he did because he knew he would lose himself had he not. Arin is courageous and has pin-prick focus but he also has a good heart and doesn't like to hurt people just for the sake of it. He is an amazing leader.

The romance! It was so different from the kind of romances one usually sees in these types of fantasies. It had the whole forbidden, star-crossed feel to it but it wasn't overwhelming. Even though, by the end, Kestrel and Arin loved each other very much, they didn't say to hell with everyone else and ran for the hills. In fact, it is the opposite. While they were still trying to look out for each other and love each other, they knew there were bigger things happening and dealt with those things first and foremost. I have to say, this pair is one of my favourites of the year.

All in all, The Winner's Curse was a brilliantly fantastic awesomesauce read. The ending alone made me want to jump in a little blue box and fly off to next year so I can read book two immediately. The plot was fantastic, the pacing was great and the characters were beyond. Even the minor and secondary characters were great. Ronan! Oh boy, I loved me some Ronan. Cheat was the devil. General Trajan is a good father and a great military man. And those are only a few of the minors that were great. Honestly, if I didn't already have a gigantic to-be-read pile, I would be re-reading The Winner's Curse already. Everyone needs to read this brilliantly woven masterpiece.

*Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing an ARC for review!!!


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