Audio Book Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Narrated by Justine Eyre

Book: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Narrated by Justine Eyre

Published March 2014 by Listening Library|8 hours, 24 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Alternate History

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.

This has been on my TBR for a while, and it seemed pretty popular, so when I saw the audio book at the library, I figured it would be a good time to check it out.

What I liked the most was seeing the privilege and power the Valorians have, and how they don’t care about the way the come in and conquer people.  They take what they want, because they can, and they enslave an entire country because they think they can.  You also get a sense of how the two different cultures are, and I liked that we get this really amazing immersion in their world.  It didn’t feel forced, and I liked that there was no info-dumping.

I wasn’t a big fan of the romance- it was so problematic for me, because Arin is Kestrel’s slave, and I feel like he can’t truly be in love with her, or have feelings for her, because she’s in a position of power and authority over him.  It’s a very unbalanced relationship, and I will be disappointed if they end up with each other in the end.

The relationship between them was my main problem, but I also disliked some other things about the book.  There are hints that the slavery we see in the book is really brutal, but unfortunately, it’s only hinted at.  And I don’t know if it’s just me, but I assumed that Kestrel had fair skin, while Arin had dark skin.  Something about the book reminded me of slavery in the U.S., and…now I have no idea where I’m going with this, or what point I’m trying to make with this.  I did not give this enough thought, and I’m sure people with more knowledge about slavery in the U.S. could say it a lot better than I ever could.  I was also reminded of the Roman empire, and I think this book, and An Ember In The Ashes would make really good read-a-likes.

Since I listened to the audio book, let’s talk about that!  I liked it as an audio book, and I think that’s why I finished the book, because I’m not sure I would have finished if I had gone with the print/e-book version.  I liked the narrator, but didn’t love her either.

3 stars.  I really liked the world, but I had some issues with the possible romance between Kestrel and Arin.  I have the 2nd book on audio from the library, so I’ll at least try out the 2nd book to see if I l’m more interested in the series.

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