The Winner's Curse
4.5 stars and I really don't have much that's bad to say about this. I read it in 3 sittings of about 100 pages each and couldn't put it down!
*minor spoilers below*
The story isn't too original, but I enjoyed the journey.
Kestrel is the Valorian General's daughter, and now the owner of a Herrani slave (Arin) who captured her eye. Their land used to belong to the Herrani until the General led an attack over a decade ago and enslaved the Herrani people.
The narration is a bit whacky. Most of the book focuses on Kestrel's POV but sometimes they throw in Arin's. I appreciated knowing how Arin thought of everything going on, but I don't think it was completely necessary and sometimes it was just randomly thrown in so you know what he's doing.
It came as no surprise that Arin was part of the Herrani revolution, since it was revealed pretty early on in the book. I think that the book may have benefitted from revealing this later on, but who knows that might have made it worse. Either way, I thought it was pretty unrealistic for someone as ridiculously clever as Kestrel to not see what's going on under her nose. She questions things but then just lets them go as if she doesn't want to know but she picks up on the littlest things outside of what's right in front of her.
I didn't have as much of a connection with Kestrel's friends, and I was a little disappointed by that. If they weren't so bland and their relationships weren't as forced, I would have felt deep regret & guilt along with Kestrel at what happens, but I didn't care as much as I should have.
I think that might be one of the main things I liked about the book, the confliction. It isn't just Kestrel finds out about Arin and then forgives him 2 days later, both of them are at war with themselves over loyalty to their people and love for each other. I also appreciated the slow-burning romance, not instalove as most stories now have.
Either way, I liked it and I can't wait to see the direction the next books goes in.