For my next book, I think I need to intentionally choose something from my to-be-read list that I expect to be slow-paced! I’ve read several great books in a row and I haven’t been getting much else done beyond the bare necessities required to maintain my “Responsible Adult” title. This book made me want to give up that title so I could read it faster.
The writing grabbed me right from the start, although I was a little skeptical about the story. We quickly learn that our main character lives in a valley where the Baron is referred to as the “Dragon”. Every 10 years, he chooses one of the 17-year-old girls from the valley and takes them to his tower where they stay for 10 years until he releases them again. Without fail, every girl comes back home for only a short time before choosing to leave the valley and go elsewhere because they just aren’t the same anymore.
So that sounds kind of generic, right? My first thought was that this was going to be some sort of Beauty and the Beast story, but really there weren’t any other similarities beyond the ones you might see in what I’ve already described. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this story unique, because different elements of it reminded me of various other fantasy books I’ve read, but it was told wonderfully and it didn’t feel too predictable or familiar.
The story is told entirely from the first-person perspective of Agnieszka. She’s a great main character. She’s unique and quirky, and I think her personality played a huge role in keeping the story fresh and interesting. She’s clumsy, and she’s not very good at analyzing new situations and reacting appropriately. She’s constantly getting herself and others into trouble. Sometimes she made me laugh, and sometimes she made me cry, and sometimes she made me do both at the same time. There aren't a lot of characters that we really get to know well, but I did like the few that we did.
The book has a little bit of romance in it, which is hardly surprising since it seems like most books have some sort of romance shoehorned into it, no matter whether or not it fits in the story and no matter whether or not the author has any skill whatsoever in writing a believable romance. This book is one of the few books I can point to and say that I actually rather enjoyed the romance, even if it was a little predictable. The characters weren’t overly dramatic or angsty about it and most of the book was spent focusing on the issues at hand rather than dwelling on a love interest. It also never got excessively sappy. There were a couple scenes that were rather explicit though, so this might be a problem for some readers.
I’ve had His Majesty’s Dragon, the first book in this author’s Temeraire series, on my Kindle for seven years. Yes, seven years! It had been offered for free at the time, and I snagged it at random, but I never read it because the series was incomplete and I had plenty of other complete series and standalone books to read. I believe the final book is due out in a couple of months and, based on my enjoyment of this book, I’m now much more eager to try that series. I probably won’t get to it right away, but maybe sometime this year or next.