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, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood’s powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost 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 no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him. [Goodreads]
This book gripped me as soon as I started reading it. After reading the blurb, I was totally intrigued by it.
Every ten years, Dragon chooses a female from Nieszka’s village where she would stay in his tower for ten years. After the ten years are over, the female kept in the tower always flees and never returns. Everyone fears what Dragon does, but no one ever knows the real truth. Everyone is surprised when he takes Nieszka to his tower instead of the ready prepped Kasia, Nieszka’s beautiful best friend. She takes all the rumours about Dragon with her, but soon finds that there’s a lot more about him that the village doesn’t know.
I absolutely loved the adventure and action in this novel. The pace was perfect, the battles were great, something like The Lord of the Rings, and then chuck in a bit of magic and living evil corrupt Wood and you have a great fantasy read. I was instantly sucked into the world after a couple of pages and I was surprised how quickly I got through the novel. The descriptions enabled me to play this novel in my mind like a movie, and oddly enough I seemed to cast Goot from The Guardians of the Galaxy as the corrupted Wood (yet they are nothing alike). But any page where the Wood was featured intrigued me so much and I loved the description and power that came with it.
There is a huge strength in Nieszka as a character. Not only is she loyal to her best friend but her skill and power with magic. Her love is really what sets off her first fearless actions and from then on, everything just falls into place. She transforms from a shy seventeen year old to a bold and fearless female.
There was a bit of an issue I had with this novel and my friend also had a bit of an issue with it too. It was the romance. There never seemed to be anything flirtatious between the two main characters and when they first got together, I had to reread the whole previous page because I thought I had missed something. It came out of nowhere. It felt too convenient and it felt super odd and awkward at times. I really felt like they would have been better as friends. This is really what makes me rate it down one cupcake away from five.