The Winner’s Curse | A Little Bit Disappointing

*This is a spoiler-free review.

Winner's Curse

  Book Title: The Winner’s Curse.

 Author: Marie Rutkoski.

 Series: The Winner’s Curse #1.

 Page Count: 359 Pages (Paperback).

 Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance & Dystopian.

 Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 stars.

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.


Before I started reading this I read many mixed reviews, but I brushed away all the average ones and decided to buy this book anyway. Looking back now, I wished I’d rather bought something else. It’s not that the book is that bad, I just felt like it’s something  that’s been done (maybe too much) already in YA fiction. I feel like The Winner’s Curse is the type of book you take out at the library when it becomes available, but you don’t necessarily have to have it on your shelf.

Let’s start with the plot, as I’ve mentioned above, I feel like we’ve seen this one too many times in YA by now. The forbidden love. The prince/princess or royal that falls in love with someone they’re not suppose to fall in love with. I just feel like it’s been overused and it feels bland when not executed well. As for the actual setting of the plot – it left me a little bit confused. I wasn’t sure if it was Dystopian or Historical or a little bit of both. Everyone still uses horsed for transportation (Historical) but it was also set in a country that I’ve never heard before (Dystopian). A little bit more information on the actual place and culture of this place would’ve been much appreciated. I also didn’t really like the writing style, some times it came across as classical/historical and other times it was just bland.

You might not think of me as your friend,’ Kestrel told Arin, ‘but I think of you as mine.

Kestrel was yet another uninteresting main character. She has some logical skills and brainpower, along with hints of beauty, but that’s about it. She wasn’t badass or heroic like I expected (and so badly) wanted her to be. I wanted a main character that took action and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, but instead I got a socialite with logic’s (which was at least interesting at times).

Arin had your typical bad boy persona, but then deep down he was just a heartbroken little boy with loads of deep, dark secrets. He hurt others because he had been hurt before, this is also something we’ve seen too many times before. As for the romance aspect, it was hardly what I would call romantic. There was no chemistry or romantic anticipation from my side. I really felt indifferent about the relationship and how it would eventually all play out.

He knew the law of such things: people in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.

The climax came way too early, making the last 50 or so pages unimportant to this novel. I really just felt like this is something we’ve seen done before, it wasn’t anything new and it didn’t bring anything exciting to the table. At the moment I’m still undecided about whether I’ll be reading the second book.

likeddisliked Liked:

  • Herani and Valorian culture, although I would’ve liked to learn more about it.
  • It wasn’t totally unreadable.


  • Overdone plot.
  • Bland and uninteresting characters.
  • Writing style wasn’t for me and at most times I did not find it enjoyable.
  • I wanted more information about the setting and the two cultures (Herani & Valorian).

like-this   The Jewel Selection

I feel like if you like Historical fiction without a ton of action and a very slow burning forbidden romance then you’ll find this enjoyable, otherwise steer clear.

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8 thoughts on “The Winner’s Curse | A Little Bit Disappointing

  1. Great review! The next two books aren’t worth the time it takes to read them. The second book is slow and only picks up right at the end, which was excellent and make me eager for book three. And then book three was a total disappointment, I actually ended up skimming it. I don’t think the series was bad, it just felt too young for me, and I didn’t enjoy it. But I did like the first book and appreciated the fact that Kestrel wasn’t a warrior (which feels overdone in YA for me) but that she instead used her brain and was more of a strategist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 😊 Like I mentioned I loved Kestrel’s logical way of thinking, but I thought I would get more action from the other characters, like Arin, when it came to the war aspect. There is that little description about him in the mountains, but I still wanted more. Thanks for telling me about the other two books, I’m still undecided though 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Completely understand the undecision! I was the same way in book three, which is why I ended up skimming it. Even though I wasn’t enjoying it, I still wanted to know how it ended. I’d recommend getting the rest of the books from the library if you can, that way you aren’t putting any money out for them!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been umming and arring about this series because I’ve seen good and bad reviews to but really nothing makes me want to start this asap. I haven’t read it but I can see how it’s like a lot of YA books with the whole forbidden love and i’ve been steering away from slower fantasy that focus on romance lately so this will still stay on my TBR but I probably won’t reach for it anytime soon.

    Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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