Parents' Guide to

The Winner's Curse: The Winner's Trilogy, Book 1

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Depth and action in fantasy tale of star-crossed lovers.

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Kids say (6):

Take the book cover's 90 percent pink frill and lipstick and 10 percent intrigue of "look, she's got a dagger in her hand" and flip the percentages: There's the real essence. Despite a couple of society balls and some star-crossed lovers, this book gets quite cerebral. Arin and Kestrel's relationship builds carefully and is pretty complex, especially as the power dynamic shifts. How Arin manages to break slave rules and enjoy parlor games with Kestrel seems a bit odd, but that's usually when Kestrel lets her guard down the most, pushing the story forward.

Most writers would have enough on their plates just keeping Kestrel and Arin's slow-simmering relationship this full of tension. Rutkoski, however, keeps the political intrigue high at the same time. The building tension between Arin and the leader of the rebellion adds quite a bit to the last third of The Winner's Curse. And the last few pages will make reading the sequel pretty irresistible.

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