The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: Book Review

“You don’t, Kestrel, even though the god of lies loves you.”

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

Commentary: Oh my gosh! This book was so good! There is so much I want to discuss! First of all, this book is very political and complex. The book starts off several years after the Herran War. The Valorians were the winners of the war and forced the Herrani into slavery.

Kestrel Trajan, what a character. She isn’t your typical fighter, she’s a strategist. She is cunning, smart, manipulative, and caring. She is the General’s daughter and is constantly pressured into joining the military for her skills. Her father sees how much good she can bring to the empire if she joins. One of my favorite scenes, had to be when Kestrel won her duel against Irex when she blackmailed him, even though he was far more superior when it came to fighting. Kestrel doesn’t want to be in the military, she wants her own independence. She is far more compassionate towards the slaves compared to any other Valorians.

Arin, is a slave and spy. He is just as intelligent as Kestrel. He works under Cheat, the leader of the Herran Revolution. He and Kestrel have a complicated relationship. They think they know what is best for each other. It did feel that both of them kept playing a game to get the upper hand in their relationship. What I really appreciate about this story is that both protagonists don’t instantly fall in love with each other. Their love slowly grows and I love the theme of forbidden love so much. I loved how much he tried protecting Kestrel. He protected her from taking the poison, he protected her from Cheat’s advances, and he protected her from becoming a slave. Secondly, I loved the two alternating pov. (۶ꈨຶꎁꈨຶ )۶ʸᵉᵃʰᵎ

Praise the Lord! No love triangles! Sorry Ronan! Kestrel and Arin are perfect for each other. Ronan tries really hard to gain her affections, but she always ignores him and falls for Arin instead.  ੧| ‾́︶ ‾́ |੭

I did not like Cheat at all. He was corrupt and creepy. I, for one, am glad that he is dead.  Man, he was definitely my least like character next to Irex.

Kestrel and Arin have conflicting ideals, and they have to overcome their issues. Arin wants his people to become a nation, while Kestrel doesn’t want any more deaths for both sides. While reading, I felt sad for the people who suffered on both sides. I was rooting for the rebels to take back their lands. I was not that ending of the book! It was so good!!! I was shocked that the she was forced into a loveless marriage, just so the Arin and his people would have their independence, but at a price. I am really excited to see what’s in store for the second book cause I am hooked!! ╰(◉ᾥ◉)╯


“Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not.”

“The truth can deceive as well as a lie.”

“My soul is yours”, he said. “You know that it is.”

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

12 thoughts on “The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: Book Review

  1. I LOVED this book! I’m so happy you did too! I love the quotes you put, and Kestrel is one of my all-time favorite characters! And Arin… *swoons* FANTASTIC review!

  2. Ahh, YAY! A fellow Winner’s trilogy fan! I’m so happy to hear that you loved this book – not enough people know about this book. Also, I love the emojis you used! They were perfect and made me laugh. 😀

    Your last paragraph though – you perfectly articulate why this book is so awesome. I loved reading this review!

    • Awww!! Thank you so much!! This book was amazing!! More people should read it. I ordered the second book already! Can’t wait to start it (ノ´ヮ´)ノ*:・゚✧

      • Awesome!! I’m so excited for you! The second book is just as amazing – if not more! – than the first book. You’ll love it! 😀

  3. YESSS I love this book so much and I can’t wait for you to read Winner’s Crime! It’s so awesome because Kestrel is a female character done right. YA nowadays always makes girls too badass but without personality to back it up. I’m sooo psyched for Winner’s Kiss. 🙂

    • Yassss!!! I really loved Kestrel. I wasn’t worried she was going to be the typical YA heroine too. Thank goodness she wasn’t!! Kudos to the author. (੭•̀ω•́)੭̸*✩⁺˚

      • I’ve been following the author since she wrote her children’s trilogy so it was a dream come true when she wrote YA. It’s a really compelling story and I love her rich way of laying out court politics.

      • I had no idea she wrote children’s book.I might possibly check out her other work. I really liked the politics in this story. It felt as if the characters kept playing an endless game of bite and sting from beginning to end.

      • Yes, it’s very strategic and I liked that Kestrel was actually smart because so many books makes girls look stupid even though they’re supposedly ‘clever’. I like the show instead of tell.

      • Definitely. Kestrel has become one of my favorite female protagonist just because she overcame obstacles just by being intelligent. ʕ•̫͡•ʔ♡*:.✧

Leave a Reply to Becca and Books Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s