Book Review: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, #1)

Guess who finally finished a book for the first time in almost a month?! Yup, me, that’s who! Aren’t y’all proud of me? Luckily, this book also happened to be the BOTM for Hype or Like Friday, so bonus in that this was the one I finished since I had to DNF Passenger last month as I was trying to read it during a slump. Don’t ever do that, trust me. But The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, #1) by Marie Rutkoski was such a pleasant surprise!

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.

I hate to be THAT person, but I’ll be honest and say that I picked this book up because of all of the good reviews I’ve read about it, but I kept putting it aside because the cover is awful. I cannot stand book covers that have a girl in a dress on the cover. Like why do you do that?! Yuck. Hate it so much. But anyways, I thought this book was going to be some sappy, silly romance a la The Selection series. Yeahhhhh…. I was wrong! The romance was surprisingly just a tiny part of this story, this was much more focused on the character development of the two MCs and the story of their personal sacrifices. This plot is full of twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting but really appreciated. And that ending?! I need the second book right now because I am dying to see what happens next!


Kestrel is my kind of MC. She marches to the beat of her own drum and basically just does whatever she wants, instead of following the crowd. I also appreciate that she’s not a part of the current YA trend, where the MC is some really small, I-don’t-think-I’m-pretty-but-everyone-else-does, weak girl. Kestrel may not be the best warrior but she’s insanely intelligent and isn’t afraid to get dirty to win. I really enjoy that in my MCs.

Arin was an interesting character. I liked learning his backstory in small doses as the book went along. It explained a lot more about why he is the way he is. I’m interested in seeing some more development from him in the next book. I like him but I need to see more from him and his part of the story, before I can love him. For those of you who have finished the trilogy – do I get what I want?!

“Isn't that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?”.jpg

This book was so much more than what I was first expecting. I loved that the focus was less on the romance, and more on the actual political intrigue and action. I would have never pictured that when looking at the cover and just reading the blurb. It does take a little bit before this book hits its stride, but once it does, you won’t be able to put it down!

Final Verdict: 4/5 stars

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? Does the rest of the series measure up, get better, or is it disappointing?

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Obsessive book reader and blogger. Texas girl. Sports fanatic. Lover of travel, video games, and scented candles. I also just really enjoy sleeping. #noshame

13 thoughts on “Book Review: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, #1)”

  1. I’m hoping to read this soon! I actually hadn’t even heard about it until the last book came out. People seem to really enjoy this series and it sounds pretty interesting. It definitely sounds like something I’ll like. 🙂


  2. Starting it today to have enough time to post the review next week 🙂 I have heard mixed things about it but I hope I’ll enjoy it. I am one of the few who actually finished and liked Passenger, so there’s hope, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also gave the first installment a solid 4 stars. I found myself loving the trilogy more than I thought I would as well. Right! I love that Kestrel is a nontraditional heroine. And haha, I may just be the only one that loves the cover?? Anyway, nice review, Larkin! Happy to hear you got out your reading slump earlier this month. XD


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