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.
This is one of those books that both summary and cover leads you astray.
The cover makes you think that it's going to be well, court-like, high class-low class romance while the summary is, like a Romeo-Juliet kind of thing....it's not. Not really.
It has all the elements of it but the book is so much more. Kestrel, the girl depicted in the summary as vaguely rebellious is intelligent, smart and cunning. She is groomed by her general father to be a worthy military tactician, and he encourages such pursuits and needles constantly about enlisting because he deems her worthy.
The Volarians are a strong, military lot, both male and female can enlist. It's either military or marriage for Volarian woman.
Every woman carries a jewel dagger--some ornamental, some not--and at their coming of age is taught where to push said dagger when the situation calls for honor suicide.
Not to say that the women are looked upon as individuals themselves. they are still forced to take an escort everywhere they go etc. And though it is said that both male and female can enlist, there was no mention of a female soldier or God forbid, officer, but still.
Arin is proud, intractable, serious and surprisingly sweet. He's also strong, and educated and smart and more than meets the eye. We know what he's up to straight away really and we can't blame him for it.
Actually, it's kind of hard to blame one and the other for their feelings, for their arguments, for the ugly words or the anger between them afterwards. I had really hoped that the author would not create a happy ending right away and I was relieved that she didn't.
Kestrel's people enslaved Arin's. And now, Arin's people are taking back their freedom, and in the process killing hers. How do you get over that, really?
It's true that Arin tries to be noble, felt the need to be better, but in war, there will be casualties. And how can Kestrel forgive the man who are killing her people? Eventhough she understood why he did the things he did.
And how with all the political intrigue and the manipulation that they have to do against each other, to SAVE each other, can their feelings for each other survive?
The angst felt real, the action they each took doesn't make me want to tear my hair out. I understood their actions, I relate to their feelings. I sympathized and I REALLY WANT BOOK 2 NOW!!!