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.
Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner's Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.
Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children's literature and fiction writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.
One day at the market, Lady Kestral makes an impulsive decision and ends up purchasing a new slave- for way more money than she should have spent. She convinces her father and the house manager that the slave is worth the money because he is a blacksmith and that he can be very useful to their military household. Arin, the new slave, soon takes over the task of being Kestrals escort whenever she leaves her home and they begin to develop a friendship of sorts. Even though the people in the community gossip and speculate about Kestral and Arin's relationship, Kestral does nothing to discourage it.
Arin escorts Kestral even as he continues to create weapons and to take care of the military horses. He never complains about the extra work that she has caused for him. He even still finds time to make trips into town to visit his "sweetheart".
Kestral knows that Arin is keeping secrets, but she has her own that she is determined to keep hidden. Everyone, including her father The General, expects her to follow in his footsteps and join the military. She trains and studies, but her heart remains rooted in music.
In a world of questions and chaos, Kestral and Arin both find peace in her music, but can it be enough to save them when their lives turn upside down?
This is an incredibly unique story. The harsh new world is written with unbelievable grace and beauty. Kestral and Arin live in a time that seems both long ago and futuristic. The ideals of the times are both conventional and outlandish. Kestral is fierce in her pride and still a girl terrified to face her choices alone. Arin and Kestral's relationship is grounded in honesty yet filled with deceit.
Although we were left with an enormous cliff to hang from, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story and was quite caught up in the new world that Rutkowski created.
5 out of 5 stars