Sunday, February 9, 2014

ARC Review & Giveaway [US]: The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (Winner's Trilogy #1)
Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: March 4, 2014 

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.
5 Stars!
*Thank you FirstReads and Macmillan for sending me this copy*

This is one of those few times when I can confirm that the synopsis does not lie. The Winner’s Curse most certainly has everything we are told to expect, and goes above and beyond with these attributes. I anticipated a well-written novel, but I was not expecting one as groundbreaking, as enchanting as what I have just read.

The Winner’s Curse is by far one of the best young adult fantasy novels I've had the pleasure of stumbling upon in quite a while. This polished novel strikes down each and every requisite I need from my fantasies with enviable ease. Never once did I find myself particularly urged to set the novel down, internally reassuring myself, One more page, one more page!, only to find myself finishing the novel in a few sittings. Nor did I ever feel bored, frustrated, or angry at the quality of this brilliant tale.

Before reading Rutkoski’s novel, I actually hadn't noticed how much I have been deprived of quality young adult fantasy, how much I craved a book that did not pathetically butcher my favorite genre. I cured my famished self by reading this, and thankfully, enjoyed each second of my reading experience. In my opinion, one of the most noteworthy traits of this novel is its lovely writing. Rutkoski truly does have a knack with prose, so much so that I feel compelled to quote pages upon pages of this very superbly written book. I am pleased.

Included in The Winner’s Curse is a good blend of romance, suspense, action, and political intrigue to keep anyone enthralled. While I do believe this is the perfect read for all fantasy lovers out there, I also think this will appeal to readers with diverse tastes in literature. There isn't an excess amount of drama to weigh down the novel, nor is there a romance that is overdone, which usually is the downfall of countless “fantasy” novels.

What I would consider as a major feat on the author’s part is the ingenious worldbuilding. There is absolutely no info-dumping, and while I do admit I did get a bit confused between the Valorians and Herranis for the first few chapters, the fog faded as I became familiar with the terminology. The intricately written plot added to the complex world, equating to a very joyous Summer.

You probably won’t hear me saying this ever again, but this is one of those few times where I actually wanted more romance between Kestrel and Arin. Theirs was a very subtle yet powerful romance that was slow-building and easy to root for. It wasn't overdone or over-dramatic, it was actually quite believable considering that they are star-crossed lovers.

I will scream it from the tops of buildings and yell it from the peak of Mt. Everest, I love Arin. Not only is he completely swoonworthy (I’m such a girl), but he actually does things other than brood. He has a lovable personality! He has character flaws! He’s loyal, strong, and has faith in Kestrel. Can I marry him?

The incorporation of music into the plot line felt perfect and just right. It didn't feel forced, or fake; it felt genuine. The impeccable way which Rutkoski described the music was spot-on, and it was as if I was right next to Kestrel, listening to her playing her music.
“The beauty of the flute was in its simplicity, in its resemblance to the human voice. The piano, on the other hand, was a network of parts-a ship, with its strings like rigging, its case a hull, its lifted lid a sail.”
Probably the most touching part of the novel was its depiction of father and daughter and their relationship. It was portrayed in a very accurate and relatable fashion, and I found myself tearing up while reading about their interactions.
”His eyes met hers. Something in them made her think that he would never have let Irex kill her, that he would have pushed into the ring and planted a blade in Irex’s back id he had thought his daughter might die, that he would have thrown away his honor with hers.”
A stunning, thrilling start to a series, The Winner’s Curse has earned its spot on my 2014 favorites list. I cannot wait until the next novel comes out, and have very high hopes for the next installments to this beautiful, compelling novel.

*Quotes are taken from an uncorrected galley.*

Now for the giveaway! Here are ze rules:

  • Sorry guys, giveaway is US only. Shipping is just way too expensive. 
  • You must be older than 13 or have parental permission to enter.
  • NO CHEATING! I will check to make sure you did what you entered!


  1. This looks like a fantastic book - I'm so glad to hear that it is just as good as it looks! I'm in Canada, so no entries for me, but I'm definitely putting it on my acquire list. :)

  2. Yes!!! More giveaways! *dances*

  3. Thank you so much for the giveaway! I've heard nothing but great things about this book!

  4. I can't wait for this one to be published. This is one of many positive reviews I've read for this book and I can't wait to be able to read it for myself.
    Great review :D

  5. Eeeek, I want this book soooo bad. I've heard so many great things about it and it makes me so excited. Haha to bad I'm Canadian so I can't enter the giveaway. Or else I totally would.

    Wonderful review, it made me even more excited for the book then I already was. :)

  6. I have been dying to read this book and your review was so beautiful! It sounds like it's stunning. I need to acquire this ASAP!

  7. I absolutely cannot wait to read this book. It's been on my to-read list ever since I heard of it. It just sounds so magical. :)

  8. I seriously cannot wait for this book. When I read the first five chapters on iBooks, I wanted to read more of the book. It's soooooo good! Want it so badly now.

  9. Yeah! I'm so glad you liked this one Summer! You're making me SUPER excited to read it! The action, suspense and romance sounds amazing and it looks like the characters are awesome! As always, brilliant review and thanks for sharing! :D

  10. Ah super excited for this one! From your review, this sounds fantastic, and I've heard nothing but glowing reviews about this book. :)

  11. (THIS IS Darith L.)

    I want to read this so bad! I've seen nothing but high praise! :D

  12. I've seen so many positive reviews for this book that it's probably impossible not to get excited about reading this book!

  13. I can't wait for this book. Everyone has said how great it is!!!

  14. I want to read this so much!!! I can't wait until it comes out!

  15. I want this book! I want this book! I. WANT. THIS. BOOK. Can you feel my desperation?!