Audiobook review: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Story rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 3 of 5 Stars


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.


I can see now why there were negative reviews on The Winner’s Curse. This book is focused on the romance between Kestrel and Arin; everything else is in the background. But for a story this heavy on the romance, I never was sold on their star-crossed love. There wasn’t any chemistry and real connection between them. They both were cold and distant. I personally don’t mind books, which are heavy on romance and light on fantasy, I even prefer this kind of books if the romance is well-done. Sadly in this case the romance didn’t work for me.

It’s a shame really, because Marie Rutkoski’s characterization is amazing. Her characters are multidimensional and ambiguous. And I usually love character-driven stories. She created interesting complex world. I especially love that this world is unique and different from ours, but at the same time it is similar in so many aspects. We don’t see fantastic creatures or supernatural abilities here. We see the Herrani and the Valorians with their painful past and present. We see real people who are forced to make difficult choices. This book is filled with politic, but I never was a fan of political intrigues.

In truth I don’t know who would love this book. The romance was weak and it won’t satisfy romance lovers, and there wasn’t enough political intrigues and world-building to impress those readers, who love fantasy.

My thoughts about the audiobook:

Justine Eyre is a new to me narrator. In truth I wasn’t impressed by her performance. She has a quality to her voice that just lulled me to sleep. I still listened to the audiobook because it was the only way I could read at that time. I recommend you to listen to an audio sample before purchasing the audiobook.

However, all my friends urge me to continue with this series despite my issues. They say the story gets better. Well, I definitely hope it does.

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7 Comments on “Audiobook review: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

  1. I loved this book Ksenia but agree that it’s the weakest book of the series. You don’t have a sense of who they both are as they’re placed together so early in the storyline. I felt book two was a massive turning point for me as both characters undergo a huge amount of development as individuals. I hope you’ll give book two a try, maybe the paperback might be a better option though for when you have time. A bad narrator can ruin a book. I’m sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed this more sweetheart, but wonderful review nonetheless ❤️
    Kelly recently posted…Freedom Swimmer

  2. I have the book on my shelf. Bought with coverlove impulse but just haven’t got to it yet. So many mixed reviews. Really disappointed that the world building wasn’t strong because thats a make-or-break for me.

  3. For some reason this doesn’t appeal to me, but star-crossed romances aren’t usually my choice. They stress me out too much. My daughter did enjoy the series but it didn’t knock her socks off. Sorry to hear the story was underwhelming, Ksenia. Hope the rest of the series is better if you decide to continue with it. Wonderful review! :)
    Rachel recently posted…Review: Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews

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