The Dragon protects the villages in the valley from the woods. Every ten years The Dragon picks a girl from the neighboring village to be his live in maid. When she leaves she doesn’t come back. She tends to be beautiful or special. Agnieszka is neither of those things, but her best friend Kasia is, so it’s a big surprise for everyone when The Dragon takes Agnieszka to live in his castle.
This book was interesting. There was so much hype around it and from people whose tastes I usually line up with but I just felt like it was okay to good. I didn’t hate it but I certainly didn’t love it. I loved the friendship between Kasia and Agnieszka; I liked the relationship between the villagers; and I loved the creepy ass woods. Honestly the woods were my favorite character. I liked the way that sex was handled in this book. I didn’t mind the characters in this book and really enjoyed most of them.
What I really couldn’t deal with the pacing of this book. In ways it was breakneck, every chapter there was a conflict that was resolved by the end of the chapter, but then in other ways I found the book to really drag and I was like “can we just get some more woods up in here?” I feel like Novik tried to fit way too much stuff in this book, and I think a lot of that was trying, but failing, to build Agnieszka’s character and to compensate for the fact that she was 17 when she was chosen. A lot of the book felt like side quests that added to the bulk of the book but not the character or story development.