Three Book Reviews in One: The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

This week, I give you three book reviews in one: The Winner’s Curse, The Winner’s Crime, and The Winner’s Kiss, all part of the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. Altogether a rousing and emotional, if somewhat ponderous, speculative fantasy series about a young woman, Kestrel, who is the daughter of a general, the owner of a slave, and an unwilling lynchpin in an emperor’s plan for domination.

 

16069030The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t agree with this review more, left by Goodreads reviewer Kim: “I can’t speak to the hype, but I can speak to the quality of the book. This is a very, very good YA fantasy. Superb world-building without info-dumping. Well-rounded characters and a romance that allows for the hero and heroine to actually get to know one another. Clean, spare writing that at times, especially toward the end, rises to lyrical beauty. Intelligent—I can’t emphasize that enough—intelligent plotting and strategy (an essential but often sadly underdeveloped element of any book involving politics). Interesting, thought-provoking nuances of slavery, empires, war, and freedom. And an end that allows for the complexity of the book’s cultures and characters and, while setting up for a sequel, also works well as the finish to a standalone volume.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


20443207The Winner’s Crime
by Marie Rutkoski

This one got a bit more ponderous, but still packs quite an emotional punch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


20443235The Winner’s Kiss
by Marie Rutkoski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I was absolutely enthralled with book one of this series, The Winner’s Curse, I was less so with book two, The Winner’s Crime, and even less so with the final book. This book delved too deeply into military strategy and the complexities of Kestrel’s relationships with her dad and with Arin for my taste. It bogged down the plot immensely, I thought, until it was so heavy it could only plod along. Still, it was worth reading the entire series.

 

Book Reviews: Willowkeep and Winner’s Curse

I read three books this past week, and wrote the first 4,000 words of another one of mine.  So, forgive me if I review more than one book in this post: Willowkeep by Julie Daines and Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.

What Is Willowkeep About?

Willowkeep

It’s a Regency romance about a young woman who inherits a large estate, which pulls her and her little sister out of poverty. At the estate, she meets its steward, a young man. He helps her transition into her new role, and she grows to care for him, and he for her. But they’re restrained by their disparate situations, his being worse than hers was. Worse, they’re besieged by those who plot to get Charlotte’s newfound fortune.

In some ways, Willowkeep is a typical Regency romance, showing people fighting against the societal rules of the time. But in more important ways, it is not typical. The setting, for instance, includes Charlotte’s hometown of Hull.  It is a harsh place, not only because of the trade upon which it is based (fishing), but because of the things that happened to Charlotte’s parents and siblings there. The depictions of those events give the setting and story more depth, even a darker element, than many other modern-published Regency books.

More importantly, though, the characters of Charlotte and Henry seemed particularly fresh to me. Charlotte never loses her cockney accent and never really tries to adopt the protocols of elite society. These omissions are not done out of any kind of spite; they just seem to be a natural effect of her general naivete and fierce love for her sister, who is developmentally disabled. Henry shows himself to be more than a proper steward when he develops a special knack for helping Charlotte’s sister, which ends up playing a crucial part in transitioning the plot from routine Regency to a sophisticated, emotion-driven saga. It is for that reason that I found this book to be a delight.

What’s The Deal?

Kindle copies of Willowkeep are available on Amazon for $4.99.

Who Would Like Willowkeep, And Why?

Anyone who likes Jane Austen’s works or those of the Bronte sisters, as will those who enjoyed Havencross, also by Julie Daines, or Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal.

What Is Winner’s Curse About?

Winner's Curse coverAfter Willowkeep, I immediately started Winner’s Curse, and finished it within a couple of days. It was quite different from Willowkeep, but I loved it as well. It is a speculative fiction novel based on the purchase of a slave by the main character, Kestrel, and the development of an unexpected, ill-fated relationship between her and the slave. Though it “ended” with a total cliffhanger, it was beautifully-written, well-imagined, and intense. That’s one of my favorite words to use when describing books. I love for them to be intense.

If you’re thinking of reading this book, be warned: don’t buy or check it out without also checking out or buying its sequels Winner’s Crime and Winner’s Kiss because the story doesn’t end at the end of book one. And you’ll want to read this one all the way through, as I have.

Now, I’m reading Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s Regency magic. It’s Regency romance and magic–two elements that I’ve never seen combined in one book before! I’m enjoying it very much, and can’t wait to finish it and tell you about it.

What’s The Deal?

You can get a like-new used copy for $3.79 through Thriftbooks.com.

Who Would Like Winner’s Curse, And Why?

This is YA speculative, meaning the main character is teenager-ish, so I would compare it to books like Traitorborn by Amy Bartol or Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson. It’s got romance and intrigue. Awesome, right? By the way, Dark Breaks the Dawn is available for $3.99 from Thriftbooks.com. It’s sequel just came out in May.

 

What books have you been reading or writing this week? Tell me about them!