King’s Ransom: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

June 2, 2014 Review 50 ★★★★★

King’s Ransom: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Staus and Giroux
Source: Purchased
Pages: 355
Release Date: 4th March 2014
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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.

bec (2)

You know those books you read, the ones that are just so perfect in the time you read them and leave you struggling to find the perfect words? Yeah, THE WINNER’S CURSE is one of those so expect this review to be 99% more crap than usual because even though I finished it two weeks ago I’m still struggling to describe my feelings.

Major Selling Points:

The Pretty

Do you have two functional eyes? I am assuming most of you do. And if you do HOW CAN YOU RESIST THAT COVER IT’S GORGEOUS AND EVEN BETTER IN REAL LIFE. 90% of the reason I bought it was for the cover (and really good reviews).

YA High Fantasy

When I started this it was after weeks of multiple panic attacks. I needed to get away, to escape to another world and get away from the stress for a few minutes. And my god is this a brilliant fantasy. Such a unique world, developed beautifully, with such interesting history. And no magic or powers (yet!) which is really different from most of the fantasy I read.


I don’t know how to describe this books. It just… Perfection. It is a slow build up, but with pretty good character development and world building. And right in the middle it felt like the climax, and I didn’t know how it could possibly progress, and it only got better and aaaaahhhhhh. I seriously can not describe it properly. For me it was just right, everything was perfect and exactly what I needed. I got so absorbed in the story I didn’t try to guess what would happen next, I was too busy with my feelings in the now. There were a lot of feels.


I would like to trade what little of my soul is left to have some of Rutkoski’s writing ability. It’s gorgeous. Perfect for this fantasy. There are so many things I wanted to add to my quotebook, but didn’t because I couldn’t put the book down! I can’t wait to reread THE WINNER’S CURSE and experience the beautiful words all over again.



KESTREL MY BBY. She’s very different to your typical fantasy heroine. Sucks at fighting but really smart and a brilliant strategist. Kind to everyone but trapped by society (and still a little bit of a rebel with that piano XD ). Her determination is so admirable. I don’t think I’d have the strength to make half the decisions she does.


CAN I HAVE AN ARIN PLEASE? I NEED AN ARIN?? That’s all you’re going to get about him. He is perfect and amazing and too fictional for my liking.




  • Arin x Kestral
  • Kestral x Arin
  • Herrani x freedom
  • Kestral x strategy
  • Kestral x music
  • my heart x tape
Rating Report
Overall: 5

50 Responses to “King’s Ransom: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski”

  1. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    “My heart + tape” OH LOL YOU ARE THE BEST. x) I had a lot of fun reading this book, but I had a few issues. ;) Mostly I didn’t really ship Arin/Kestrel, but I LOVED Kestrel. She was such a brilliant protagonist, and especially proof that being “strong” doesn’t mean you have to absolutely kick butt all the time. You can be brilliant and brainy too. I LOVED the writing, though. And the world. Although I had to research because I thought it was ancient Roman/Greekish, but it wasn’t quite THAT ancient. (I think? Since they had the piano.)
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Hey look at you, book, being so diverse. I’d better rate you 5-stars.

    • Bec

      Psh, you flatter me.

      KESTRAL WAS AMAZING!! A real nice brainy girl, just like us ;)

      The writing and the world and everything was GORGEOUS. Because it’s a fantasy world and based on ancient Rome/Greece it doesn’t have to be entirely accurate. So pianos can exist when they otherwise wouldn’t (and I am glad they do in this XD) It was a really unique world!

  2. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Oh man I really need to move this one up my reading list but I’ve been putting it off because of the deckled edges – and I HATE deckled edges. Imagine my disappointment after anticipating the book from TBD for weeks when it arrives with those damned artsy fartsy edges! /Rant over

    I am so glad you got the chance to read this and enjoyed it Bec :D sounds like it was exactly what you were looking for at the time. Haha and I love that Tris Gif, hilarious!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White Review: Egyptian gods & goddesses with angst

    • Bec

      Deckled edges can be annoying. Does the AUS/UK paperback edition have them? If not you might have to invest in one of those :P

      It was perfect for me! That gif is amazing XD

    • Bec

      haha basically XD

      I LOVED THIS!! I hope when it finally makes its way into your hands you love it too :)

  3. Amir

    I’m so glad you enjoy this Bec! I’ve seen differing reviews of this book and honestly, I’m still thinking about whether I should read this or not but I do agree that the cover is absolutely gorgeous! I went in a bookstore once just to look at it’s beauty lol

    Your review is helping me lean towards giving this a shot though, I like heroines who are not necessarily badass with the fighting skills but can strategize and use her mind. Awesome review! I love the GIFs you used lol
    Amir recently posted…Review: Pretenders by Lisi Harrison

    • Bec

      I’ve seen mostly really really good reviews but every now and then I’d glimpse a not-so-great one… Most of it is positive though and if you like fantasy you really should give this a chance! (especially because it sounds as if you’d like Kestrel)

      Thanks :)

  4. Kirsty-Marie

    Ohhhhhh, this book <3. It killed me, and it was perfect and different and and and everything. I was kind of anxious with it first, I'd read her The Shadow Society and liked that, though because of The Winners Curse's cover, you know pretty covers and content, but damn, I was wrong. So. Good. And I loved that she took it where it should've gone(even if it hurts, whyyyyy?!). And the romance, YES. Okay, there wasn't a lot of it, but that's how you do tension, and I ship it. Now the wait for the next. :(
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: Say Her Name

    • Bec

      Good covers can make the best of books seem incredibly daunting. There’s always that fear it won’t live up to the gorgeousness that is the outside.

      This was my first Marie Rutkoski book and it definitely makes me want to read more of her stuff!!

      The tension was perfect. So perfect. And *starts crying again*

  5. Lesley Marie

    Kestral and Arin sound pretty darn amazing! And Kestral is a strategist? AWESOME! Honestly, I don’t think I will ever be very good at fighting or strategy, but whenever I read about a character that can do either of those things I’m just like I WANT TO BE YOU WHEN I GROW UP! Ahem. Anyways. I’m definitely going to be reading this book. Beautiful writing? Perfect pacing? Great characters? PRETTY COVER?! Yup yup yup!
    Lesley Marie recently posted…Review//Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

    • Bec

      Hell yes they are! haha I’d suck at all the things fantasy characters are good at but that’s why it’s so fun to read about them!! (and then have dreams in which they are replaced with a badass version of yourself *cough*)

      My work here is done. Hope you enjoy it!

  6. Sarah J.

    YAY! I’m so happy to see more people reading this. I haven’t seen any reviews of this one lately and it’s so absolutely amazing. It’s an absolute favorite of mine and one of the best books I’ve read this year. Great review!
    Sarah J. recently posted…NEW FEATURE: BOOKHYPE

    • Bec

      I remember there being a tonne of reviews right before it came out, then a few around its release date and now… not much. We need to start spamming people about it now until we can make them cave and read it XD


  7. Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Ture

    I didn’t get to enjoy much of The Winner’s Curse, I had forgotten why, but maybe it was because of the romance. I didn’t get why they even fell in love because they were very brief to me. The parts I ddi enjoy the most were the actions and world-building. Lovely review!
    Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Ture recently posted…Novel Beauty: Tease by Amanda Maciel

    • Bec

      The romance did seem to happen sort of quickly. But at the same time it took a lot of the book to develop and there’s still a lot of complications and aaaahhhh tension.

      The world building and actions scenes were GREAT!! Thanks :)

    • Bec

      Excellent XD Come jump on the bandwagon!! Who cares about buying bans (says the girl on a year long one).

      hahahaha it’ll tear your heart to shreds because so many feels.

  8. Melliane

    Yay I’m glad you enjoyed this one, I just loved it as well! Isn’t krestel awesome and different? And It’s true the cover is pretty gorgeous too! Great review! I so can’t wait to read more now.

    • Bec

      Hooray! Kestrel was great! She’s easily become one of my favourite heroines (though that doesn’t really say much because my list of favourite heroines is as long as my list of favourite books)

      Book 2 needs to be out ASAP!

    • Bec

      Next is so far away!! How are we going to wait?

      Thanks! They’re pretty awesome gifs. Come in handy a lot :D

  9. Rashika

    I did the cough-laugh (’cause I am sick) when I saw you shipping your heart with tape. I’ve heard things about the ending in this book which is one of the reasons why although I own this baby, I haven’t read it (DONT HIT ME. I A SICK. MAKE ME SOUP).

    I am so happy to see you enjoyed this as well, Bec!!

    Fantabulous review!
    Rashika recently posted…ARC Review: We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

    • Bec




  10. Romi Foster

    Fantastic review, Bec! I’m so excited to read this, and I had been super excited, then got a bit less excited, and after reading this I’m completely excited about reading it! I can only hope my reading experience is as fantastic as yours was, and I actually didn’t know (or didn’t remember) that it was high fantasy, which is brilliant, because I’ve been really wanting to read more fantasy (it is, perhaps, my favourite genre, which I only discovered recently) and when it is so good you don’t think about what’s going to happen next or what’s going on around you, then that’s amazing. I’m sorry you’ve been having panic attacks recently, but glad this helped.
    Romi Foster recently posted…Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: 1, 2, 3. An Overview.

    • Bec

      Yay! I’m glad I could restore your enthusiasm :D

      It is a very very good fantasy! A nice introduction because even though it’s fantasy, your not overwhelmed with magic and creatures and all these other things.

      Panic attacks are a part of uni and stress. I’ll cope :)

    • Bec

      How can they not order this in!! I’d try and get a refund if I were you then use the money to order online. That’s really slack.

      Thanks :)

  11. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Ok so: if I didn’t already NEED this book in my life (hint: I did) then reading this review would have done it. The writing style sounds perfect, the romance sounds totally swoon worthy and I’ really curious about high-fantasy YA without magical powers (for now) hehe I’m adding this one to my wishlist so I’ll buy it sooner :D Awesome review ^^
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Stacking the Shelves 36 – BEA’14

    • Bec

      Hooray!! I’m pretty sure you’d love it, Micheline. Our taste in books is pretty similar :)


  12. Wendy Darling

    YAY! I’m so glad you enjoyed this. It’s definitely one of my favorites of the year, and it makes me sad because sometimes I hear this described as “slow” or “boring” and people don’t like Kestrel. Well, I love her–like you said, she’s not a typical kickass heroine, but YES she is a thinking one, and I like that she doesn’t say what’s on her mind all the time.

    And wowza, Arin. <3 Can't wait to get more of that in book two!
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Ruin & Rising Tour: Grisha Food Chat with Leigh Bardugo + series giveaway!

    • Bec

      People who say that obviously don’t read a lot of fantasy. It is a slow build up to action but the story is no no way slow. There’s so much stuff going on.

      She doesn’t say what’s on her mind! How did I not notice that before?! Though I guess it’s part of her being a strategist. She’s a thinker and considers her words, which is probably a good thing considering her status in society. I can imagine how much her father everyone would love her if she bluntly blurted everything on her mind -__-

      Book 2 needs to get into our hands ASAP.

    • Bec

      (I’m sorry this reply is so late I don’t think I ever got the email notification)

      The cover is so gorgeous! Brilliant. Just like Kestrel XD

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