“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.
Credits to Goodreads.com
OH.MY.LORD! This book is life! I am literally flashing my stupidest grin after I finished this book. It was really something that I will re-read in the future and feel the same love all over again. So this is a story about magic, which does have a fairytale vibe to it, but one with more creepiness and gore and a little mature content added. All these things combined into one and it’s simply magical, funny, and seriously well told. I am so impressed with how the author carefully mastered the art of storytelling through the 400 plus pages of this book.
The story revolves about a village that has a wizard called the Dragon who takes away a village girl and locks her in his tower for 10 years. The villagers could do nothing about it and even tolerates it because this wizard is who protects the rest of them from the evil power of the Wood. The Wood in my understanding is a part of the forest where the evil lurks in sending in occasional dark creatures to lure or kidnap innocent villagers in. There in a small village a few miles away from the Wood lives Agniezka, who believed (along with the rest of the villagers) that her beloved best friend – Kasia is the one to be taken by the Dragon, but oh well, she thought wrong.
I am deeply attached with the characters, main or supporting. This is what I love about a book – when I can feel a connection with everyone. Agniezka for instance is so charming and adorable, her clumsiness and innocence is what I love most about her. I love how she as a protagonist was made as the imperfect one and yet everything about her speaks magical. I find the Dragon lacking though. He was told as the “most powerful wizard” of his time, but a lot happened in this story that I couldn’t give him the full credit for his title, although I really find his indifference and irritable attitude really endearingly cute. Don’t ask me why. I just do. Haha. Some would find him abusive and really arrogant, but I think that’s what a century of loneliness does to a person – or a wizard for that matter. So I do not hate him at the very least. The bestfriend, Kasia surprised me most. There’s so much more to her than just a pretty face and she literally proved it – I love her. When I was reading the book, there was a part that I had a teeny bitsy crush on Prince Marek which was unnecessary, I know, but care not to judge. Even the presence of the other self-absorbed wizard, the Falcon doesn’t bother me that much.
The setting is overall fairytale-y. The tower where the protagonist lived reminds me so much of Rapunzel’s, actually. The way it was told was so vivid, so magical yet surprisingly believable that I actually repeated each hardly pronounceable spells to see if they really work. LOL. I initially thought the book is a middle grade or it can be read by really young readers because well – magic and fairytale, sounds good, but WAIT. NO. Children, keep out. There were a few mature scenes that I literally DID NOT SEE coming and to be honest, well, I find it a bit unnecessary to an extent. But screw that (oh, figuratively), I don’t care, the story freakin’ rocks anyway. There were a lot of unpleasant things that happened in this book but the last few chapters make up for everything.
Overall, it is a book that of course I will recommend you to read if you are like 18 years old and above. Haha, okay 17? 16? No 15 or less. Okay? Good.
Till next book!