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Maggie Stiefvater
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The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy)

The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski There are far better and more articulated reviews here than what I could possibly write, so I'll just correct some misconceptions you can have about this book before reading it.


If you only look at the cover, you may expect pretty dresses and assorted frippery.
There was almost no mention of dresses here.
Yes, there were two balls. The first was almost a non-event, and the second one doesn't count because everyone got poisoned.

If you only look at that girl's expression/pose on the cover, you may expect a huge amount of woe-is-me, or at least some angst.
There was none of that. That girl on the cover can't possibly be Kestrel.

If you only read the title, just at the mention of the word "curse" you may expect some magical element.
There was nothing magical/paranormal in this book.

If you only read the synopsis, you may expect an instalove and a sweep-me-away romance.
No instalove.
There definitely was some romance, but it was subdued and slow-paced.