Bite and Sting

6:53 AM

Summary of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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.


Have you ever waited to read a book even though its super popular because you're afraid it won't live up to the hype? That's exactly how I felt about The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski until my sister told me I had to read it and the second book so we could discuss both of them. Because we have such similar taste in books, when she tells me to read a book I immediately place a hold on it at the library. I read The Winner's Curse over the weekend and can tell you my sister was right in suggesting I read it.

I don't know if it was the fact that I read the book while I was at my parent's house, but as I read The Winner's Curse I felt like I was back in high school curling up with one of Tamora Pierce or Sharon Shinn's books (which is high praise considering they are two of my favorite fantasy authors). I was immediately sucked into the world Rutkoski created and didn't want to leave. I found the world building to be rich and creative from the fact that only females in the military are allowed to travel outside without an escort to the tile game of Bite and Sting that Kestrel and Arin play together. 

While I loved immersing myself in the world of The Winner's Curse, the premise of the book sets up a romance that is tricky to write. I applaud Rutkoski for even attempting it. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next book. 

I also think the cover should be remade. The girl in the ballgown doesn't really fit with the story and played a role in me not picking up the book before my sister suggested it. I think bite and sting tiles would've drawn my attention more and would fit better with the book. 

I've already placed a hold on The Winner's Crime (the second book in the series) at the library, which should tell you I enjoyed reading the first. I gave The Winner's Curse 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads.

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  1. I have been a bit put off by this book because the the Girl In A Gown cover, but I will be reading it for the Make Me Read It Read-A-Thon and I am excited to finally board this hype train. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it!

    1. Yes, it's amazing how powerful covers can be. "Don't judge a book by its cover" may apply better to people than to actual books, ha ha. I hope you enjoy it!

  2. I've been meaning to read this book for soo long.
    really loved your review and I'm so glad that you liked it.
    Eliza from

    1. You should definitely read it! Thanks for stopping by!


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