Select one of the keywords
The Winner's Curse    by Marie Rutkoski order for
Winner's Curse
by Marie Rutkoski
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Curse is unique, making it very hard to classify. It certainly has the feel of a fantasy, but is missing a key element to the genre – magic, making it remarkable that Rutkoski can so perfectly capture the feel of a genre without the main component.

Kestrel Trajan may be the daughter of a Valorian general, but that does not mean she agrees with the Valorian way of life. Nearing the end of her teenage years, she needs to choose one of two options: marry or join the military. There is no man whom she wishes to marry yet and although she is a brilliant strategist, fighting is not her forte. Another aspect of Valorian life she despises is keeping the conquered Herrani as slaves.

One day at the market, though, she gets baited into buying one, a smith named Arin. As the two grow to know each other, they realize that they might have more in common than a Valorian and Herrani should. However, by the time they discover what could be friendship – or more – events have already been set in motion that will change the entire empire.

Rutkoski excels at so many writing elements that it is simply awe-inspiring. Her world-building is utterly believable with no info dumps needed. Her characters are strong and flawed with everything needed for a standout hero and heroine. Her pacing is perfect, making the pages turn at just the right speed as the plot slowly starts to hurtle towards an unseen climax. All of these elements intertwine to created one breathtaking novel.

The Winner’s Curse is truly a must read. Fans of fantasy will be so engrossed in Marie Rutkoski's tale that they will not even notice there is no magic in this world, and that in itself is magical.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews