I picked this on up in Waterstones - it was book of the month or something, and the promise of a re worked fairy tale lured me in. Unusually I read it in a fairly timely fashion, and ended up slightly surprised by how very much I loved it.
Obviously I expected to like the book or I wouldn't have bought it, the fairy tale aspect was going to be a winner, and once upon a time I read a fair amount of fantasy fiction (at the Terry Prattchet, Neil Gaimen, Robert Rankin, Douglas Adams end of the scale) though not for a few years. Still, I didn't necessarily expect a book I couldn't put down but that's what I got.
The set up was fun, there's a dragon, but he's not actually a dragon - instead he's a wizard called the Dragon, and although he does take a village maiden its only for ten years, and then he gives her back (though at that point she no longer feels at home back in her village). The book opens in a choosing year, everybody assumes that the Dragon will choose beautiful and grave Kasia - so we know that won't happen. Instead he gets stuck with messy and chaotic Agnieszka, neither are very happy about it.
It has to be Agnieszka because she has magic, something she's slow to accept, but with an enchanted evil wood to be fought on the doorstep, threats to Kazia, a handsome prince who isn't quite as charming as he might be, and a growing relationship with the Dragon, she has to get on with it. It's not a perfect book; a little bit to much is crammed in, the final quarter is slightly rushed, very involved, and maybe takes itself a bit seriously, and Agnieszka is bit luckier with her magical choices than one might reasonably expect - but none of that mattered.
What did work was the relationship between Agnieszka and Kasia, and Agnieszka and the Dragon - which could have been creepy but isn't. The Wood is satisfyingly horrifying, the set up where traditional fairy tale tropes are upended is fun, and I stayed up far to late to just read a few more pages 2 nights in a row (which was enough to finish it).
I've struggled since I finished this one (before Christmas) to find a book to pull me in in quite the same way (it's a Magic of its own when a book does that). I have a couple of similar impulse buys which have been sitting around for far to long, so maybe the plan for the weekend should be to shelve what I feel I ought to be reading and dig them out.