Author: Naomi Novak.
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.
Except for the romance arc (which felt forced, unnecessary, and quite strange – I mean, almost every romantic moment comes from magic-induced passion! They really don’t go together well outside of that.) I really liked the writing style. The magic was innovated and interesting, and the descriptions well done.
Sexual Content: “They’ve lived alone with a man for 10 years, so of course they’re ruined, although all the girls say he never lays a hand on them.” Girl fears that a man will rape her. Man starts kissing girl without her consent, tries to lift her skirt – she knocks him unconscious. Two characters caught up in a magic-induced passion, kissing, nearly start stripping each other – come to their senses. One instance of sex (quite explicit) between an unmarried man and woman.
Language: 2 d***, 1 hell
Violence: Cattle infected by magic go vicious: they have to be burned to death. Magic wolves attack: they’re killed by vines. Character cuts man’s throat. Full-on battle with magic forest (burning and cutting trees, but also fighting with blades the monsters that live there). Siege-war between two human factions, soldiers killed.