The Winner’s Curse Review

The Winner’s CurseImage result for the winner's curse

Marie Rutkoski

Square Fish

May 4, 2014

384 pages

The Winner’s Curse is the first book in the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkowski. This book had a lot of hype surrounding it, so I went into it with high expectations, and for the most part I was not disappointed. The characters were interesting, the premise exciting, and the end left me dying for the next installment. The problem, however, was the pacing. Overall The Winner’s Curse was an exciting adventure with just a few flaws.

The Winner’s Curse follows a girl named Kestrel who is the daughter of the Valorian general. Her father desperately wants her to join the military, but Kestrel is content with her music. Kestrel lives in Valoria, a land that enslaves the people of Herran. One day Kestrel buys a Herrani slave named Arin for reasons she does not know. Kestrel slowly begins to develop a relationship with the slave, however a Herrani revolution is brewing, and Arin may be at the center of it all.

The characters in The Winner’s Curse were likable, but not completely original or developed. I liked Kestrel and how she did not need to be an amazing fighter to still be awesome. Arin, the other main character, did not really seem like anything special. He was a fun character to read about, but in the sea of fictional characters, he would never stand out. The main romance in this book was obviously between Kestrel and Arin, and I really liked it. It was slow burning and definitely did not take over the plot. The characters and romance in The Winner’s Curse were overall decent.

The greatest weakness of The Winner’s Curse was the pacing. In the beginning, it was mostly okay, however after that it was a whole different story. The Firstwinter ball read like the climax of the story even though there were 100+ pages left. Then, the actual climax was exciting, but it certainly did not feel like the actual climax. The middle and end pacing of this book really seemed to be off.

The world in The Winner’s Curse was really cool. It is always fun to read about fictional worlds that do not actually have any fantastical elements. I liked that the Valorian women had the same or close to the same rights as the men did in their society. I did have a few questions about the world that, if they were answered, would have made the book stronger. To name a few: Why is the Herrani land/people so valuable to the Valorians? What caused the disease that killed Kestrel’s mother? What other empires are in this world? Hopefully, the awesome world of The Winner’s Curse is more fleshed out in The Winner’s Crime.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Winner’s Curse. The characters were fun, the setting/world cool, and the romance was lovely. There were a few problems, but this was still an excellent book, and I am dying to read the sequel. What did you think of The Winner’s Curse? I would love to know.


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