Sometimes, a book comes along that surpasses all your expectations for it, capturing your imagination, and enthralling you as you turn the pages.
For me, The Winner's Curse was one of those books. There's no easy way to sum this book up; there are just too many elements and too many things that are best left for the reader to discover. I will say this: it's nothing like the cover implies. The world is loosely based on ancient Rome, and it's technically a fantasy, but there is no magic and the main character,
Kestrel, is not your typical fantasy heroine. She is not a fighter, and willingly admits that. She is, however, a gambler and a strategist, and even though there is a love story in here, she is ruthless to those who get in the way of her ultimate purpose. There is betrayal, insurrection, and lots of maneuvering, both by Kestrel as well as other characters. Rutkoski knows how to plot a book, and while it's not action-packed in the traditional sense, she writes the book like a long high-stakes chess game, and kept me engaged wondering what Kestrel's next move would be.
Although The Winner's Curse is a first in a projected trilogy, it comes to a highly satisfying conclusion while making me curious as to what direction the story will go, what move Kestrel will make next.