Review: ‘The Winner’s Curse’ by Marie Rutkoski

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: ‘The Winner’s Curse’ by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on March 4th, 2014
Genres: Historical, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 355
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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.

Chapters/IndigoThe Book DepositoryAmazon CanadaGood Reads


You take notice when a publisher is pushing a ton of marketing and publicity behind one book and that so happened to be The Winner’s Curse. It started when American bloggers received the beautiful packaging and beautiful ARC (with the sword bookmark), when I took notice of it. Combine that with an interesting synopsis and beautiful cover, this book nerd got SUPER EXCITED.

Only as I started it, I wasn’t excited anymore. I was bored. I was bored for pretty much the entire beginning and middle. I found myself stopping from reading this book because nothing happens. There is a slow burn of a relationship brewing and that’s it. There are hints as to what Arin might be up to but does it actually happen? That was the only intriguing aspect. And why is Kestrel so infatuated with Arin? I either missed the moment they fell in love or I just couldn’t care less. I wasn’t feeling the romance at all. Where did it come from? Mere glances and startled revelations? Then all of a sudden they realize they had feelings for each other? What!! I was confused. Romance in this one is as low as a slow kindling that turns into a raging fire, then quickly get snuffed out by a bucket of water. That’s a pretty simple way to put it. I wasn’t feeling any of it. I couldn’t connect with neither Kestrel or Arin.

Hasty writing, and very quick, straight to the point rapid fire writing. Normally, I don’t mind this style of writing since it’s very fast-paced, and also very unique, but I didn’t like any of it.

Kestrel..snobby, superior, and quick to protect her loved ones and deny all the strangers. Sure that makes her a loyal friend and one who cares, but really? She couldn’t help her people????? How cruel can you get? And then her indecisiveness due to her romantic feelings for Arin complicated her plans even more. He is your your enemy and slaughtered all your people? You’re not remotely disgusted by him? I’m a little horrified by her decisions. She is wonderful at strategies and games and is highly intelligent, and I just didn’t like her. She redeems herself in the end, but at that point, I again didn’t care. I just wanted it to be over.

I really hope everyone else has better luck with this one than I did. The hype monster drew me in and didn’t let go. I need to learn my lesson one day but I just can’t help it sometimes. No more hype, no more buzz for this girl. I can’t get overly excited anymore!


Isn’t that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?
If a woman can fight and for the empire, why can’t a woman walk alone?
They were weak. We were not.

reading progress






  1. Megan McDade

    February 7, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    I really enjoyed this one it was one of my fave reads of 2014. I have heard however mixed reviews either people love it or hate it there doesn’t seem to be an in between!

    • giselle

      February 7, 2015 at 9:07 PM

      Yeah I know! I actually loved the second one. So glad I stayed with the series

  2. lovingrob

    February 6, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    Aw, sad face 🙁 I’m so sorry you didn’t like this book Giselle. I love it so so so much. Sniffs. But I do understand why you had some issues with it. <3 Probably 😀 Either way, your review is awesome. <3 Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweetie 🙂
    Love, Carina Olsen

  3. Kelsey

    February 6, 2015 at 7:25 AM

    There were quite a few things I didn’t like and I can relate with the bored aspect among other things. This is one book that I think I gave too high a rating (a 3/5), but I don’t plan on continuing the series. You’re not alone in disliking it.

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