“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
This book was a complete breath of fresh air. I was really impressed with the storytelling, the way things were slowly revealed and completely unique world-building. Agnieszka is interesting, relatable and a complete clutz, which I definitely can relate to. I love how feisty she is and how she sticks up for both herself and those she loves. The Dragon is subdued and frustrated when things don’t fall into his view of the way the world works. I can completely relate to that perspective even as I can make fun of it!
As Agnieszka and the Dragon and thrown into chaos together, chaos ensues. I was anticipating this book to stretch into a series, but I am so glad it did not. The book has a few “false climaxes” and yet, I never found myself frustrated by it.
I would highly recommend this one to lovers of fantasy stories, magic and fairy tales.
Warning: Contains violence and some sexual content.
Rating: 5 stars!
Who should read it? Fantasy fans looking for something completely fresh that is a standalone.