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.
I had heard rave reviews and tales of disappointment about this one. But Kristin Cashore, whom I deeply respect, was one of the most prolific praiser's of this book (she did a talk with Marie in Boston that I was tempted to drive the 10 hrs for) so I decided it was a well placed risk.
I loved a great many things about this book, but the tone and Kestrels voice were the two most striking things. Kestrel is too sensible by half, everything is a calculation, a clever tactic or a winning strategy to a rigged game. Exactly nothing is about dresses, looks or attractive boys. In her bet with her father, marriage is only a means to an end not a romantic fairytale of love and devotion. Watching Kestrel rise to the occasion in the midst of the most trying situation, battle with her unwanted feelings and play the game to the end was both satisfying and thoroughly unique in my reading of late. *side eye's Cassandra Clare's sagging bookshelf of books full of girls moping over boys and vice versa*
The tug between the two mains, Arin and Kestrel, their star crossed lovers conundrum, not to mention their honour and patriotism to their countrymen put them in situations that are both heart stopping and full of opportunities for these two brilliant teens to shine. With the ending what it was I am both dreading and dying for the next part in this series. I can't even imagine where it might take me as a reader, a refreshing twist that is rare for someone who always has their nose in a book.
Not at all your usual brand of romantic teen fantasy/alternate history, expect to be never quite sure about any ones intentions or emotions, instead be ready for a fast paced narrative full of twists and turns and you shouldn't be disappointed.
The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, March 4th, 2014