The Winner’s Curse
(The Winner’s Trilogy #1)
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.
I actually picked this book off the shelf because of its gorgeous cover. What is it they say about judging a book by its cover? I was expecting a light read, heavy on the romance, slow on plot and a protagonist swept up in an illicit romance. It was by no means a novel I will go home raving about but I was both surprised and pleased by it nonetheless.
We are introduced to Kestrel, a young girl raised in luxurious conditions and feeling out of place in a society that suffocates her. This though not unusual was coupled with the fact that Kestrel accepted her lot in life and strove forward to come to terms with it. She had a strategic mind and average battle skills and used what talents she had to her advantage. Kestrel was a strong-minded protagonist who was willing to bend the rules for her love story but not break them. She never gave up on her people, even plagued by her feelings for Arin she worked to help her people at the cost of her own happiness. I liked the romance, the subtle glances and hidden emotions, how Arin and Kestrel both had to fight themselves and what they were feeling for each other given their opposing sides and precarious positions.
The novel was centered around the romance but was propelled by crucial plot points and had all the makings of your typical society turned anarchy. The rebellion was pieced together sloppily and quickly, and we had very little information on how such a large scale uprising took place. Furthermore, while Arin was portrayed as a leader among the uprising and seemed to hold an important position among their ranks we saw little to no preparation and planning on his part to give way to such a huge movement.
While the novel was well written I was disappointed by the lack of world building and I felt there were so many unexplored possibilities. I know there was a lot of excitement surrounding this novel and while the novel was enjoyable and surprised me in several ways, it still leaned towards forgettable for me. The cliffhanger is the only reason I would pick up the sequel.