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YA Fantasy Audiobook Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Trilogy #1)


audio copy thanks to Audible Studios

Synopsis from Goodreads
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository

7.5/10

* * *
 Where do I start with The Winner's Curse, ladies and gents? 



In a nutshell: the prose is lovely despite the plot being a bit too naive for the age group. It feels like middle grade. Any sort of controversial, overly sexual or extremely violent topics are hushed out, so it always feels like the overall picture is muted. You won't see brightness of Katsa or Celaena or even quiet dignity of Avry from Maria V. Snyder's books, but then you get passages like that:

“The snow fell on her, it fell on him, but Kestrel knew that no single flake could ever touch them both. She didn’t look back when he spoke again. “You don’t, Kestrel, even though the god of lies loves you.” 

and they strike you and stay with you for awhile.

After reading many other books in the same genre I'd say that The Winner's Curse is a simplistic fantasy romance for young readers. It's clean, so it will probably work for MG readers as well, but it doesn't have enough scope for a good fantasy (Kristin Cashore for example) or complexity of characters' feelings (I'm looking at Melina Marchetta right now) to become something more striking. What works for it is the writing style itself in all its straightforward loveliness.

In the audio version of the book the narrator, Justine Eyre, has done a fab job depicting Kestrel's slippery way of thinking, and I did enjoyed listening to it. There was also an interesting preview of the next book which sounded more promising than The Winner's Curse. I'll be tempted to continue with the series based on the excerpt.

Overall, not bad, but I'm on the fence about recommending it.

* * *
Что я могу сказать о Проклятье Победителя?

Если коротко: очень красивый стиль повествования, несмотря на наивный сюжет. По возрасту эт должен быть подростковый фикшн, склоняющийся в нью адалт фикшн. На самом деле, всё настолько заретушировано и упрощено - и секс и насилие и прочие радости войны, что книга читается как миддл грэйд (от 8 до 12 лет).

Спасают её очень запоминающиеся, красивейшие отрывки (см. выше), на которых останавливаешься, чтобы их хорошо прочувствовать, но больше, дамы и господа, и перекусить нечем. Масштаб построения мира упрощён до жути (не ждите Кристин Кашор или ту же Марию В. Снайдер), эмоциональных оттенков чувств (это вам не Мелина Марчетта) как таков нет, и на переднем плане робкая романтическая привязанность друг к другу  Кестрел и Эйрина.

К аудио версии у меня нет никаких претензий, так как рассказчик попался очень хороший, однако рекомендавать книгу эту вам я не хочу.
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