Rating – 2/5
“A dark enchantment blights the land. Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest cast a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. A young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all she values behind. Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she’s everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he takes.”
Prior to reading, I had heard great things about this book but sadly, I was disappointed. A loose-retelling of Beauty and the Beast sounded right up my street and I was sensing some major acotar / acomaf vibes that sadly didn’t come through.
Don’t get me wrong, this book is utterly magical – the world created is breath-taking and how Novik creates a character in the Wood is amazing. However, I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood for a fantasy novel when I read this but I found it really difficult to read and multiple times I wanted to just give up and pick up another book. I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters and none of them really stood out for me; I thought Agnieszka was rather irritating and the Dragon was too broody and really didn’t impress me. I was expecting a little more romance which I didn’t get as this book mainly focussed on war and the battle with the Wood which, while it was incredible in itself, got rather repetitive after a while and I was just waiting for the end for it to be over with.
Perhaps I’ll pick this book up again when I’m really in the mood for a fantasy novel and enjoy it but sadly this time round, it really didn’t impress me. However, if you’re a fan of high fantasy I am sure that you will love this book and I do recommend it for the world Novik created.