Book Review: The Winner's Curse & The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #1 & #2) by Marie Rutkoski + The Winner's Kiss Giveaway

by Marie Rutkoski
Release date: March 4th 2014 | March 3rd 2015
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux

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.


Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.


I cannot even begin to describe just how good The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime are. Both were such fantastic reads and both left me completely speechless. The Winner’s Curse has been on my TBR list for so long now, but I’m so lucky to have only picked it up now when The Winner’s Crime has already been released and with The Winner’s Kiss being just around the corner, I don’t have to wait for a year to read it (but still, March 29th, please come sooner!!).

I clamored to get a copy of Crime after reading Curse because the ending broke me! Little did I know that Crime would’ve full-on destroyed me. The emotions I got from reading these two were all over the place intense—sorrow, joy, disgust, hope, distress, frustration, longing, anger. Sometimes either, sometimes mix, and sometimes all of them at the same time. It was maddening! And it felt so, so, so good to know that these events and characters could illicit such a number of emotions from me regardless whether it’s a positive or a negative emotion. I loved feeling all of it! And the fact I could connect so well with the characters thrilled me.

Kestrel was quite the interesting character. Actually, her trope is one of my most favourites. Kestrel may not be physically talented in a battle, but she is a genius schemer and that’s about as dangerous if not more. The book already had me transfixed to it from the beginning till end but I always find myself even more enthralled whenever Kestrel is in one of her mind games. Seeing the cogs turn in her head was a joy to read!

I find it interesting that Kestrel’s father would rather she join the army than to marry. The lack of discrimination against women was a breath of fresh air. I mean, in most stories the parents worry a lot about their daughters but in The Winner’s Curse, Kestrel’s father is willing to pitch his daughter in a war because he has so much conviction in her even though she’s not an exceptional fighter because he knows his daughter has a good head between her shoulders. I find it even more interesting though that Kestrel wants neither to join the army nor to marry. She loved playing the piano, but music is frowned upon in her society and is regarded as lowly—something only slaves do. It’s why she bought Arin, albeit on impulse, because he sings though he refuses to.

I really liked the master x slave relationship here. It’s another breath of fresh air that the master is a girl and the slave is a guy because mostly, in other books, the slave always tends to be a girl and the master, a guy with the slave being an impulsive sarc and the master, an overprotective rake. In The Winner’s Crime, Marie’s approach to the master x slave dynamic is different. Kestrel is brilliant and cautious, and Arin is quite and full of hatred. There were no funny banters involved. These books mean serious business. Kestrel and Arin genuinely didn’t want anything to do with each other and at first I was skeptic at the notion of these two being in a romantic relationship. But while I think Rutkoski handled this development quite well, I also think that the romance could have been reduced in some parts in Curse and maybe transferred to the second book because gods I craved it so much In The Winner’s Crime! That said, The Winner’s Trilogy doesn’t focus much on the romance. It’s more about war and politics and I love that it doesn’t shy away from character deaths.

The Winner’s Crime, though, was consistently a frustrating read from start to finish. There were moments when the frustration was too much to bear that I would just cry abruptly. It was torture but in the bestest way possible and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

It already goes without saying that I loved The Winner’s Curse but The Winner’s Crime is just WOW. Everything I loved about Curse all levelled up in Crime with the addition of some more awesome. The political mind games were set to an all-time high and the emotions, ohmyword, so genuine and so palpable. It was so difficult not to feel for these characters especially Kestrel because she suffers the most. And for Arin because he suffers too.

I know I’m lucky for just reading these two close to the final book’s release date but dang, if only I had a time machine!

The Winner's Curse: 4.5/5 stars!
The Winner's Crime: 5/5 stars!


My sister has just pointed out that March is my anniversary month. I keep forgetting that I have an anniversary so I've never done an anniversary giveaway but I'm doing one now so yay! 

Up for grabs is a copy of The Winner's Kiss, the third book in the The Winner's Trilogy, either from Amazon or Book Depository so yes, this is International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also read a sneak peek of The Winner's Kiss here:


  1. I've been waiting to read The Winner's Crime until The Winner's Kiss is out Chel because I know it's going to be a painful read! I'm pretty sure I'll be spontaneously crying as well:) So glad you loved both though, I can't wait to get back into this world!

  2. I thought the The Winner's Curse was okay but really enjoyed The Winner's Crime. The romance in The Winner's Crime was more subtle but the tension was greater. I can't wait to see how everything will be resolved!

  3. :):) Seems like everyone loves this series! I still have to read it myself and I have a feeling I'll be kicking myself for not reading them sooner like you - though I do so love not having to wait long periods in between books. "Torture in the best possible way" sounds good to me too :D I really hope you end up loving the last book too!!


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