The first thing we learn in this new book from Naomi Novik is that the Dragon doesn't eat the girls he takes.
He's not actually a real dragon, he's a wizard and the local lord, but every ten years he picks a seventeen year old girl who stays with him for ten years. They all say he never touches them and at the end he gives them enough silver that anyone they'd want to marry would be happy to overlook any doubts, but none of them ever want to come home and marry anyway. They leave. The Dragon protects his lands, and the kingdom in general, from the evil magic of the Wood and the things that come out of it.
This year's girl is different. She's been chosen because she has a talent for magic herself, and therefore the Dragon is obligated to teach her.
This book is just generally brilliant. You can feel its roots in folklore at every turn, yet it remains wonderfully fresh and inventive. The world is intriguing and the characters feel real, and are a joy to spend time with. I had trouble putting it down, and I read it mostly at the ALA Midwinter Meeting with interesting new books all around me. I'm very disappointed that right now all I have is a self-destructing e-galley and I'll still need to get my hands on the real book months away.
Uprooted will be available May 19