Agnieszka has lived in her village for all of her life; It is nestled in a valley alongside a river, but it is bordered by the Wood; a dark place full of powerful magic that casts its shadow over the whole kingdom. But Agnieszka has other things on her mind; she has almost reached the age of 17, and she will stand with her friends at the next choosing when the Dragon makes his appearance. Her greatest fear is that she will loose her closest friend, Kasia, who everyone thinks has the qualities that this wizard will demand. When girls are released a decade later, they stop briefly in their home before leaving the village for ever. The speculation as to what has happened to them terrifies her almost as much as succumbing to the forces that haunt the Wood.
But her fears are unfounded, because what the Dragon seeks with the girl he chooses is not visible beauty, but one with a natural magic deep within her soul and that is the one thing that Kasia doesn’t have.
So begins a original and imaginative fantasy that is unlike anything that I have ever read before. I loved the natural magic that she uses in the book and the way that they use it to combat the elements in the forest. It is deeply rooted in the myths and legends of forest lore from European history and the way she portrays the Wood is almost like a character itself, drawing and evoking the subconscious, primeval fears of the forests that we all have. The plot was reasonable, but a tad predictable and the characters were fairly good, with qualities and flaws in equal measure. The most disappointing bit was the end, which fizzled out for me, hence four stars. Otherwise really enjoyable.