Book Reviews

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) – Marie Rutkoski (Book Review)

//I NEED to comment on what a great day today is because Ed Sheeran just dropped his new album!! Also, the cover of this book is gorgeous.


Title : The Winner’s Curse

Series : The Winner’s Trilogy #1

Author : Marie Rutkoski

Genre : YA Dystopian, Romance


Goodreads Summary :

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.

Non-Spoilery Thoughts

This trilogy is known for its romance and politics. That is what I was expecting when I picked up this book, looking forward to an angsty, passionate romance in the backdrop of a rich, compelling, political scenario. Did the first book live up to all the hype? Not really, but there were definitely some things I really liked, though hopefully things will get better in the next two books.

The romance, is basically forbidden love. It’s between a Herrani slave and a Valorian woman (the daughter of a general, that too) and though initially they start off as slave-master, their relationship keeps tranforming in different ways throughout the book, and keeps taking different forms. At the heart of each form of relationship, and throughout their journey together, love blooms.

I know that just about everyone is gaga over the romance in this novel but personally, it didn’t impress me too much. I think in the initial 50% of the book, I could’t feel the connection between the characters at all, and I was wondering how the love between them is born. Seeing the subtle scenes of romance was really irritating, because I just couldn’t wrap my head around Kestrel and Arin as a couple.

In the later half of the book, the romance develops – meaning, it starts making a lot more sense. For me, love has to be gradual between characters, and if I cannot see a proper tansition, it’s hard for me to believe in it. Kestrel and Arin’s romantic relationship was much more developed over the second half of the book, however, I still did not get what exactly the hype is about. The romance definitely did NOT blow me away : it was pretty okay. 

The political aspect of the book, I enjoyed much moreThe book is solely based on a war between Herran and Valoria, and the various strategies and techniques used, all the little details were pretty intriguing. I hope the series does not stray away from the political aspect and become a sappy romance (that would suck.)

I am super not invested in the characters. Kestrel is your regular YA heroine, she doesn’t have a hint of individuality or uniqeness – she’s just what you see in different YA fantasy books over and over again. Arin was a good male protaginist, but I don’t think there was anything that stood out about him. The side characters were unimpactful and didn’t leave a lasting impression.

The writing of the book was strong and good enough, but once again, it didn’t stand out. There wasn’t anything particular which I can attribute as Marie Rutkoski’s style – there’s nothing in the writing she can call her own style, or her own way. It was just normal writing, pretty much what you expect to read when you pick up a generic YA fantasy.

The ending of the book was good, so I’ll definitely continue with the series. I am pretty intrigued to see where the author takes the story, but hopefully there isn’t any unnecessary romance to ruin it. 

My Rating

2.75/5 stars

7 thoughts on “The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) – Marie Rutkoski (Book Review)

  1. I’M SO HAPPY WITH ED SHEERAN’S NEW ALBUM TOO! OMG all the songs are amazing hahaha :P anyway, I’m sad you didn’t enjoy this as much as I did but I get it because this books is definitely a hit or miss, no in between, it seems hahaha 🙈 the second book was the best out of the trilogy imo so I hope you like it better haha and regarding your wish for no unnecessary romance…. well, this book *is* about romance at its core, so, you’ll see hahaha great review :)


    1. Yes all the songs are SO GOOD 😂💙 I really hope the series gets better, and that’s good to know that the second book is the best! I know it’s about the romance – I just didn’t feel it quite as much in the first one. I just don’t want any stupid romance, hopefully the author has written something sensible and done the romantic bit well :)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, thank you – I feel a bit less alone being one who did not fall in love with this book either. Just like you, I kind of had a hard time connecting with the characters and the romance, which made me a bit sad – I think with all of the hype, I expected somehow this book to be a bit, more than it was? I hope to read the second book someday just as well, and to fall a bit more in love with it than this first one. I hope you will too :)


  3. Noooooo my heart!! 💔😂 I love this series so much haha, and Kestrel and Arin is one of my favourite ships. But, I respect your points, and can see what you mean! 😊 I personally loved the next two books more, I hope you enjoy them more than you did this one aha. ❤ Lovely review!


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