I’m going to keep this spoiler free as it really has a dense plot, rich as the wood itself…
Rating: 5/5 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.
This book for me, had major Cruel Beauty vibes – saying this, I enjoyed it a lot more that Hodge’s novel.
This is a tale of a girl who has grown up being told that she isn’t special and will have the basic life but she then flourishes into something a lot more and a lot stronger indeed. Agnieszka, (Ag-nyesh-ka) starts off as loving character, riddled with fear as her best friend Kasia is the perfect candidate for the dragon. But it turns out that the dragon doesn’t want Kasia at all…
Instead of a game-of-throneseque sort of book, it is very reliant on magic and how it works and the limits of it.
I believe Agnieszka and Kasia’s friendship is one of the best I’ve read in any literary work. there is understanding and love which I look upon as something that I would like myself. However, I would like to point out that this was not my favourite thing about the whole book. What I loved was the world building, more specifically: the Wood.
The wood is the great malevolent force that gets closer and closer to Agnieszka’s village and all who she loves. Conflict may occur between kingdoms, but when it comes to the Wood, no one comes out alive and those who do, die of corruption. This book was certainly a lot darker than I originally anticipated, but by no means is that a bad thing. The Wood is eerie, misty, crooked and all for good reason…
This book is so much more than the Wood, but it cannot be escaped and it certainly refuses to kneel before a victor. A mere breath of its decay will rot its victim graceful as it is gory. It is wonderfully wicked and Novik doesn’t limit the description of the terror – and what is in the Wood is more than terror can even suggest.
“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”
I would say that this book is more a new adult book, solely because there is a lot of descriptive gore in the sense of that it could be disturbing and also that there is a sex scene – this isn’t SJM descriptive though.
I am aware that some people didn’t like this due to the high level of description, but I’m a sucker for beautiful words and how they give me butterflies.
Tell me if you’ve read this, or if you’re planning to in the comments; I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
Until next time,