Review by Francine Puckly
At the suggestion of my daughter, I picked up a copy of Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse Trilogy: The Winner’s Curse (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), The Winner’s Crime (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015) and The Winner’s Kiss (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016). As I was neck deep in revision for a dual-point-of-view novel, my daughter thought The Winner’s Curse might act as a mentor text for how the author masterfully handles two points of view. And while Rutkoski does a phenomenal job with POV, she offers so much more for readers and writers alike.
At the story’s opening, our first protagonist Kestrel and her best friend Jess end up at the slave market quite by mistake. But as a handsome and defiant slave Arin (our second protagonist) is being auctioned, Kestrel bids and purchases him for an unseemly amount of money. Kestrel brings Arin back to her father’s estate where he is put to work as a blacksmith. After a short time, Kestrel chooses him as her escort into town and their relationship shifts from one of ownership and servitude into one of respect and the hint of friendship. It eventually blossoms into romance. But the star-crossed lovers are pitted against each other as Arin leads the slave rebellion and uprising against the army Kestrel’s father commands. Over the second and third books, a complicated relationship between Arin and Kestrel twists and turns with an even more complicated war between Arin’s enslaved people and Kestrel’s people who have dominated them for over a decade. Readers are exposed to brutal battles, political intrigue, relationships and their corresponding power shifts, and the issue of freedom and its costs.
The Winner’s Curse Trilogy is definitely worth a closer look by anyone hoping to study superb plotting, backstory, and slow-burn romance development, as well as distinct points of view.
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