“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.”
When I heard people talk about this book, the information they were giving was a bit misleading. I was as if this whole book was about a girl who is taken by a wizard to live with him in his castle and of course that’s where the story begins but from there it goes in a completely different direction. It was not at all what I expected but I ended up loving it.
This book has a good story line although some parts were very much hurried (especially the romance). The world is easy to imagine. You get enough detail to get the general idea and then you are given room to fill in the rest.
The magic feels natural (not like in Carry On where it felt forced to me) and I liked the possibilities. Most of all I liked the way magic works differently for some people. It’s almost like our education system (and why it’s failing), some kids learn differently than others and find it extremely difficult to adjust to what we find normal. I enjoyed that similarity, it was something that pulled me into the story even more.
So what actually happens in this story? Well, I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll be careful. Agnieszka lives is a little town, she’s the daughter of a woodcutter and she’s very good at getting her clothes dirty. Every ten years, the Dragon takes a girl of 17 years old away to his tower. Of course Agnieszka is one of the girls that are 17 at the moment a new girl has to be chosen but she’s not scared because everyone knows that he will take Kasia, Agnieszka’s best friend and also the most beautiful girl in the valley.
See, I’m doing it too!!!
Forget all that.
Not very far from the village where Agnieszka lives, there is a forest so dark and corrupted by evil that anything that goes in, comes out either completely wrong or not at all. By completely wrong, I mean a man would come out looking fine and then he would murder his family with a smile on his face, that kind of wrong.
The Dragon keeps the Wood back as much as he can because the evil inside is always trying to get its claws onto more land.
That’s the interesting part. That’s what I loved. The Wood.
It’s scary. It’s evil. And it’s a story splendidly crafted.
Agnieszka starts out as an insecure little girl and grows into something more. Not just strong but capable. She’s not like the rest and even though others look down on her, she kicks all of their asses.
Her end of the story is sublime.
And lastly, I liked how nobody in this story is invincible. Even the strongest get hurt sometimes and that’s fine. It makes the whole believable and it means you don’t know the outcome until the last moment.
I’m very happy that I read this book. I could have done with a better build up for the romance but that didn’t stand in the way of a great book.
If you love magic and fantasy, pick it up. I mean it, it’s seriously one of my favourite books of the year.