This dystopian novel, recounts the journey of Kestrel, a seventeen year old. Being the daughter of a General, she has certain expectations; to get married to someone of high status or join the military, but she wants to remain independent and follow her own desires. At an auction for slaves, Kestrel sees a kindred spirit in Arin and impulsively buys him, but little did she know she was entering the ‘curse’ of the winner. As their relationship starts to grow, the politics of the state starts to crumble and Arin is found to be hiding a big secret that will effect everything.

I have to admit that I was hesitant to start this book, due to the fact that I believthe-winners-curseed it would be another cliched romance novel, but when I finally opened the book, I was instantly hooked into Rutkoski’s world. She creates such a believable and interesting world and weave
s in realistic political battles within society, although it wasn’t too detailed it was still very enjoyable. Her style of writing easily flows and allows for a quick and exciting read. Kestrel, though having some annoying flaws, is a strong protagonist and has an almost sassy quality to her character. This allows for a lot of humour and compassionate moments, and bring the reader a lot closer to her, compared to Arin. Personally I preferred reading from her perspective than Arin’s as his parts seemed much smaller and so it would have been nicer to hear more from his side.

The novel seems to have an underlying theme of societal divisions and inequalities within the class system. This is more evident within the second part of the novel, where politics and war strategies and conflicts become more evident and the struggle of control increases. Rutkoski also highlights the glamorous lifestyle of Kestrel and how almost restricting it can be, despite the stability it provides – showing a conflict between reality and appearance.  This makes it much more enticing, as the frequent change in narrator creates more anticipation of what will happen. I look forward to learning more about the clashing societies within the next novels. I also loved the relationship between Kestrel and Arin, as although they came from different places, they both shared the same intelligence and outlook on the world and how people should be treated.

The one thing I did find with this novel is that it seemed to rush through parts of the events that occurred, especially towards the ending and so I was left questioning certain things. I look forward to learning what happens next in this trilogy and whether it has a satisfying ending for Kestrel and Arin. I would suggest this book to those who liked Throne of Glass or Red Queen because they all seem to address the same themes of strong women and the flaws within the hierarchy of classes.

No. of pages – 368

Publication date – 4th March 2014

Rating – 4/5 stars

Genre – dystopian, romance

Quote – “Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”