The Winner's Curse is the first book in The Winner's Trilogy written by Marie Rutkoski.

Summary and TaglineEdit

"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.


  • "Isn't that what stories do, make fake things real, and real things fake?"
  • "Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous."
  • "He knew the law of such things: people in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark."
  • "The truth can deceive as well as a lie."


  • The author, Marie Rutkoski, named The Winner's Curse after the economic theory of, in her words, "the very moment of winning, not its aftermath. She went on to say that "it describes how the winner of an auction has also lost, because he or she has won by paying more than what the majority of bidders have decided the item is worth."