Kestrel, the aristocratic daughter of a warmongering nation, buys a man named Arin at a slave auction. Her purchase sets off a unstoppable chain of events, both in the delicate politics between their people and in her own heart.
The world of The Winner’s Curse is inspired by the Roman Empire, which lends weight to its star-crossed love story. The world-building is great, with Kestrel’s imperialistic society layered over the ruins of Arin’s peaceful one. I found Kestrel’s political awareness to be the most interesting part of the book – it’s rare to find a teenage heroine these days whose strength isn’t some kind of literal skill with weapons. It was awesome watching her strategize and stay two steps ahead. The Winner’s Curse ends on a killer cliffhanger, so be warned – Marie Rutkoski is just getting started!