Naomi Novik, 2015
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley for the purpose of review.
Premise: Agnieszka lives in a beautiful valley, with family, friends and neighbors. Yes, the nearby cursed Wood is a constant peril, and the wizard who protects the valley is incomprehensible and possibly dangerous, but she doesn't dream of any other life. Until. Of course, one finds her.
I loved the style, there’s just enough modern pace mixed with plenty of gorgeous fairy tale prose. I loved the characters, especially Agnieszka's caring and stubbornness, always acting on instinct. Her friendship with Kasia forms the backbone of much of the story, and that kind of great friendship always makes me happy to see.
The romance comes in second or third in importance, which I like, and it has enough of a slow burn and enough build to make it satisfying. The world is intriguing overall and the twists and turns off the plot kept me turning pages quickly.
Most of all I loved the magic - the way magic is described by different characters, perceived and manipulated in different ways. It is lovely, lyrical and draws from different traditions than many fantasy novels today. All the different wizards are interesting, even the ones we one see for a little while have complicated relationships to the world of magic.
Reading this was like coming back to a brand new world: there are enough echoes that you're never lost, but enough unique moments that it's never boring.
Plus the opening is freaking brilliant. I absolutely loved this book.
5 Stars - An Awesome Book