Author: Naomi Novik
Series Status: standalone
# of pages: 435
My rating: 3/5 stars
“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.
I don’t really know what I was expecting from this book because I didn’t actually know anything about it when I bought it. I only bought it because it has a 4.14 on Goodreads and I thought since it was fantasy it was something that I would enjoy; however, I may have been wrong.
The first problem I had with this book was the classic teacher/mentor/trainer guy turns lover halfway through the story. I may have been able to put this aside if there was anything else connecting me to the story to distract me from it but I never got that. I felt so disconnected from this story and while I know it wasn’t the writing because I absolutely loved Novik’s writing. I don’t really know what it was about her writing but it was just had this vivid and poetic flow to it that made it easy to read but wasn’t overly simplistic.
But then there was the story. I did not end up being a fan of the main plot and actually began to struggle to finish this book. I was getting pretty close to a DNF solely because I wasn’t interested anymore.
I really loved the main character, Agnieszka, and she felt so perfectly relatable. She’s a messy, clumsy teen who has no clue about the real world. I can feel the connection. But I did not enjoy her relationship with the Dragon (Sarkon) and I didn’t really care about the other characters that much either. I also kind of found it problematic that everyone was idealizing a child (Kasia) and nothing made it sound like this was wrong. When from the beginning of the story everyone is talking about how perfect this little girl was and everything about how amazing she was compared to every other girl it made me really made. I didn’t like how was this comparing children and showing them that they should be comparing themselves to others. It just completely sent a horrible message and made me really upset.
Overall this book really was not something I was a fan of but I enjoyed the main character so that was something.