I can’t even begin to describe the emotional rollercoaster a reader will endure when reading this book. I am still REELING froOH. MY. GOSH!
I can’t even begin to describe the emotional rollercoaster a reader will endure when reading this book. I am still REELING from everything Arin and Kestrel had to go through.
And that ending nearly KILLED me!!
The Winner’s Curse is a love story unlike any other. Kestrel and Arin aren't exactly the type you would think would end up together. They don't exactly like each other at the beginning. Kestrel is the daughter of the General, has wealth and power at her disposable by her name alone, and purchases Adin during an auction done for salves. Adin may be a salve but he is a defiant and stubborn one. He has sharp eyes and a sharp mind which surprises Kestrel but Adin is even more surprised to find that Kestrel can keep up with him both in words and action. Their relationship grows slowly, having to gradually break down through walls of prejudice, anger, enslavement, and pain in order for Kestrel and Adin to learn to trust each other. It's a tentative trust, a trust on the precipice of turning into love, but fear and betrayal get in the way. Then all hell breaks lose in the kingdom as war begins and Kestrel and Arin find themselves dancing around fear and anger and pain again, trying to determine whether or not their love can work or if it's been a lie all along.
I just couldn't handle the ups and downs these two had to go through with each other! Adin and Kestrel know they can't be together unless they are equals within the empire but that will not be easy for either of them. Changing the perceptions of the society around them will require sacrifices and they aren't prepared for them. What I appreciated about their relationship was how gradual it was built and how Adin and Kestrel were able to maintain their common sense. They didn't allow themselves to be clouded by their emotions even though that comes at a cost too. They are completely honest with each other and know what they feel toward each other is EXTREMELY complicated. A war stands between them and the loss of loved ones, country, possible freedom make those complications even more real. While reading through their journey, you'll find yourself struggling to agree whether they should be together or not because of what's going on around them. There are no easy answers so it's hard to determine what is wrong and what is right. They both have very valid reasons for their actions which makes it even harder to decide what is the right or wrong course of action.
The Valorian world is a very interesting culture. They are conquerors and warriors. All children, including girls, are trained from very young to fight and handle battle. The girls carry daggers under their skirts which is awesome! Balls and duels are a fun part of the Valorian society. But I also really appreciated that the author didn't simply a paint a picture of a beautiful country. The ugliness of enslavement is very much present throughout the story and the line between higher and lower class. It's one of biggest issues Adin and Kestrel have to deal with.
Kestrel is not a warrior though. Not in the way her father wants her to be. She isn't good with combat but she has a mind for tactics. She can read people and pinpoint their weakness, secrets and lies just by watching them. She speaks her mind with as much calculation as those around her and faces her fears even when part of her wants to run. She is cunning and driven and determined to find a way to change her fate since she's only given two options by her father: either enlist in the military to find alongside him or marry. Kestrel was freedom to decide for herself what should become of her life. Music is the only thing that centers her, that gives her an escape from the world around her and the decisions threatening to destroy her. It's commonality she shares with Arin.
Arin is just as calculating as Kestrel and even better at reading people. He is a FORCE to be reckoned with and Kestrel learns this very quickly after purchasing him. He carries himself with strength and power despite his role in society. He is bitter and angry from his treatment as a slave but he also has the ability to be kind. He is incredibly smart and gifted at tactics as much as Kestrel. It's two qualities that bound them. Adin also has talents as a blacksmith and can create weapons from scratch. It also doesn't hurt that Arin is GORGEOUS. *giggles* Even Kestrel has moments were she's swept away by Arin's beauty.
There are so many scenes that pull at your heartstrings and leave you wanting to scream or rejoice or cry. But the ending will leave you SHATTERED! It's sad and heartbreaking yet noble and hopeful at the same time. And there are two other scenes that will just leave you SWOONING and SHIPPING for Adin and Kestrel to be together SO HARD!
I ABSOLUTELY FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK! I read it in one sitting. I couldn't put it down. Like it was physically difficult to set the book down at times to deal with real life. The NEED to know what will happen to Kestrel and Adin will drive you to stay with the book until you know all the things and because all the feels!!
I've already put the second book on hold at the library. I can't stop thinking about what will happen next and NEED to know.
If you aren't a fan of the Winner's Trilogy yet, then get yourself to the library or the bookstore ASAP and grab a copy! Trust me when I tell you, it's totes worth it!
Review: There are those moments where you start a book and you know in your gut, it’s going to be an EXPERIENCE. The book is going to take you on a joReview: There are those moments where you start a book and you know in your gut, it’s going to be an EXPERIENCE. The book is going to take you on a journey and by the end of it, you’re going to be left feeling like it was the best adventure of your life. The Darkest Part of the Forest was such a book for me.
The world building is lush and vivid and memorizing and terrifying. Part of me wanted to live in Fairfold. I wanted to be walk through the forest and discover fairies of all kinds and see what they could do. I wanted to sneak off to the casket where the fairy prince slept and tell him all my innermost secrets. The other part of me wanted to run like hell in the other direction. Fairies in Fairfold are NO JOKE. They play for keeps and they love the dark. Once a bargain is struck or a rule is broken, they will come for you. The town of Fairfold was a character all it's own. It took on life, breathing magic into the pages and enfolding you in it's beauty and terror.
The characters were wonderfully diverse and wonderfully well-built. Hazel was my FAVORITE. She is wild and fierce and bold. Hazel willingly runs into the dark to face evil fairies and save those taken or avenge the ones who have been lost. Although Hazel is strong, she keeps herself VERY guarded. She doesn't let people get close to her, doesn't allow her heart to really open to anyone (outside of her brother Ben but even with him she keeps secrets). Hazel carries the weight of having to be a hero for her family, for her brother, for herself. I liked the mixture of Hazel's strengths and weaknesses. She grows as the story unfolds and learns to connect with her vulnerability and let people see it. She learns to better accept herself. I loved that!
Ben is adorable. He's completely accepting of his sister and never judges her. He has a hopeless romantic soul and a heart opened to anyone. He's easy to get along with, easy to trust and build a friendship with. He has a gift for music that is terrifying and beautiful. Ben is afraid of his musical gift even to the point where he's willing to break his own fingers. He is the dreamer and has a softer heart than Hazel.
Severin, the horned boy in the casket, is dangerous and lethal and DELICIOUS. Oh goodness, he's a bad boy if there ever was one and he will make your heart go all swoony while making your feet want to run in the opposite direction. There's no denying he's a fairy with a strength and power all his own and he has his own agenda for Fairfold.
There are some heavy themes addressed in the book: violent scenes, dead bodies, trickery and cruelty, and neglected parenting. Hazel and Ben's parents weren't exactly great parents growing up. They often left the kids unattended, hungry, and to fend for themselves. It's something that helped Ben and Hazel connect more deeply and learn to survive. I thought it was handled with just the right touch. It wasn't overly dramatic or dragged on or setup in a way to pity Hazel and Ben but used as a way to show how Ben and Hazel found a way to not only forge a better life but forgive and build better relationships with their parents.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the Darkest Part of the Forest! It is a book I will more than happily read again and again. It will sit on my To Be Treasured For Life shelf. It was a story I just couldn't stop devouring and I was enthralled from the beginning to end.
Anyone who is a fan of Holly Black, who loves stories filled with magic and fairies, who loves the fantasy genre will not be disappointed!