by Naomi Novik
Monday, March 13, 2023
I would not have picked up a book that’s basically a fairy tale on my own account. This is one Darren picked up second hand and I just idly picked it up to see what it was, and started reading, and got absorbed. And I’m glad I did, it’s good and makes me think I might enjoy more fantasy which is a genre I’ve always shied away from. I mean, why would you read books about made up things? facepalm
This is the tale - and I feel I should use that word rather than story - of a seventeen year old girl, Agnieska, who gets ‘chosen’ by the local wizard, known as the Dragon, from all the local girls in the valley to go to his castle for a decade as what appears to be some kind of slavery. There’s lots of magic and a war with a Wood, it was very much outside my comfort zone but I very much enjoyed it, partly because it was outside my comfort zone and it was nice to be somewhere new. I liked that it’s very much a feminist tale. Yes, the beginning with the choosing of a young girl by an older man has all the stereotypes in it, but it’s quickly clear that Agnieska is more than a match for the Dragon. Though the direction of the story is really rather obvious a lot of the time I found the story telling interesting enough that I didn’t mind, and I didn’t really see where it was going to end up. And the characters were well developed which lifted it off the page, and they were what made the book interesting rather than the plot.
I really wouldn’t have expected to enjoy a fairy tale and I’m pleased to have read it and found myself new literary avenues to explore as a result, though perhaps not just fairy tales.