First Impressions: I really enjoyed this, particularly Kestrel who is a fantastically developed, fierce and intelligent protagonist. I also loved the slow building romance between Kestrel and Arin. I can’t wait for the next book.
Review: Kestrel is the general’s daughter of an empire where they conquer and enslave. Kestrel has only two choices, either marry or join the army. Yet Kestrel wants neither – she wants music, she wants something different, she wants to do what she wants. During an auction of a slave, Kestrel makes a rash decision and buys Arin, something of a kindred spirit. This proves to be a disastrous move and Kestrel has to pay a price higher than she ever intended.
I had heard some fantastic things about The Winner’s Curse, and when I read the novella Bridge of Snow, I was set. The Winner’s Curse was something I had to read. And the cover is really pretty, right?
I am a massive fan of high fantasy and this one certainly did not disappoint. Perhaps the world-building did feel lacking, but I loved it nonetheless. I loved that the women had gowns equipped with daggers, I loved how women can fight in the army, how they have influence, how they can fight in duels and WIN and it’s not considered strange.
Kestrel isn’t a fighter. She’s not strong in the sense that she can physically kick butt. However, she’s strong in her own right. She’s a strategist, and she’s smart, cunning and attentive. She wins with her mind, not with her fists and it’s something that I deeply admired her for because she’s different from all the other heroines. She’s one of the smartest protagonists I’ve met.
Another thing I really enjoyed in The Winner’s Curse was the slow building relationship between Arin and Kestrel. It wasn’t instalove, thankfully, but they slowly learnt to appreciate and care for each other. Arin was a slave, Kestrel was his mistress but she treated him fairly. They’re both very protective of each other, care for each other, even love each other but they don’t let it override the most important factor: they’re unequals in the eyes of society, they face some very real and dangerous problems.
Overall, The Winner’s Curse was a highly enjoyable and enticing novel.