Book Review → 4 Reasons to Read The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Book 1 in The Winner's Trilogy

Young Adult Fiction // Categories: Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (Macmillan)
Format: Hardcover • 355 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Other books by Rutkoski: The Cabinet of Wonders, The Shadow Society

When The Winner's Curse came out last year, there was a lot of hype surrounding it. I wasn't interested in reading it because it involves slave culture, but I decided to give it a try due to the numerous praised reviews. If you can't decide whether or not to give The Winner's Curse a chance, here are four reasons that may convince you to!

Complex worlds and made-up languages tend to draw me away from fantasy books, but The Winner's Curse kept my interest. In fact, the only element of fantasy (that we know of so far) is the fictional world they live in. Their culture is a bit reminiscent of the Roman's—a love for the arts (music, in this case) and architecture are two that stuck out to me. Because the two are so similar, it's easy to imagine.

It takes a while for things to get interesting but once it kicks in, you will not want to put this book down. When I started The Winner's Curse, I wanted lots of action. Now looking back, I find that the uneventful beginning was necessary for me to familiarize myself with the characters and the world. Without the backstory and time to learn about who Kestrel and Arin are, I would have ended up with different emotions.

We get a lot of stories where the guy is on an adventure to rescue the girl-in-waiting, but Kestrel is far from the girl who is waiting for someone to save her. She is independent and headstrong, but makes decisions for the good of her people. She may not be physically strong, but she's dang strategic and smart. It is SO NICE not having to say "you idiot!!!" :p

There's something about a forbidden, slow-burning romance that makes it all the more better to read, but this one is a little twisted. Both Kestrel and Arin are in unfortunate situations and I've been sitting here, thinking about a way to explain it without being spoilery BUT I CAN'T. Just know that it's a type of romance you've probably never read before.

As someone who doesn't read much fantasy but is trying to ease into it—I loved it. Read this if you like the "government control" aspect of dystopian worlds and are trying to get into fantasy OR if you want to read in the perspective of someone like Clarke from The 100, the television series on CW.

Have you had the chance to read The Winner's Curse yet? Did the hype affect your experience? If you haven't read it yet, are you planning to?


  1. I so need to get on reading this book. I've owned it for a while now but I still haven't picked it up yet! Do you have any other recommendations for fantasy series that you enjoyed? I'm currently reading Red Queen and I love the Shatter Me series and the Grisha trilogy! I'm in the mood to read fantasy!

  2. Yes, read it! I've heard The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson is really good — I haven't had the chance to pick it up yet but I hope to get to it soon! Shatter Me was an awesome trilogy, I agree, and I am also in the mood to read lots of fantasy :)

  3. I have this one on my kindle app, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet! I've heard plenty of good things though, so I definitely need to give it a try as soon as I can!! Very intrigued by the kind of romance the book will have.

  4. These are fantastic reasons why everyone should read Winner's Curse! I came to a bit late too because I was a bit put off by the slave culture and the gambling nature, but this is a wonderfully complex book, and I loved the world-building. I'm glad I finally listened to all the hype!

  5. I'm glad you gave The Winner's Curse a shot! It's a pretty great fantasy series starter (though I'm partial to the follow-up, The Winner's Crime), and very different from most of the ones out there. Great list!

  6. I've heard so many fantastic things about this book! It's new the top of my to-read list for sure!

  7. I actually featured The Kiss of Deception in a Top Ten Tuesday post about books I need to read from the fantasy genre! I've heard it's for fans of Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy, which I loved. Here's hoping I can read both The Kiss of Deception and The Winner's Crime as well as The Winner's Curse soon!

  8. I'm over the moon with excitement that you loved this one! I'm obsessed with this series!! You must read the second book ASAP -- it doesn't disappoint! ;)