Just another GR refugee. Other than that, I had a stroke in 2004, and read almost anything I can get my hands on, though I have a particular weakness for history, mystery, and historical fiction.
In a rural valley in eastern Europe, every ten years the villagers offer up a choice of their seventeen-year-old girls in tribute to "The Dragon," the local wizard, who protects them from the local malevolent woods, and from other dangers. He takes one girl away, keeps her for ten years, and then returns her, with a large dowry in silver - but she never remains home long, and usually ends up living far away, in the capital. She is almost certainly lost to her family forever.
Agnieska is one of the girls turning seventeen in a selection year, but neither she or her parents are worried, because everyone knows The Dragon will pick her friend, Kasia, who is beautiful, smart, and fearless.
But The Dragon picks Agnieska.
This setup sounds like a remake of Beauty and the Beast, and there are hints of that, but it has far more to do with Polish fairy tales, and the Russian Baba Yaga stories. (Baba Yaga tales are very cool - I had a great book of them when I was a child - and I believe she is the quintessential witch of Russian and eastern European tradition.)
Naomi Novik is best known for her Temeraire novels, all of which I've enjoyed, and some of them enjoyed a lot, but this I enjoyed more than any Temeraire novel.
I've read several very good fantasy novels this year, like Sabriel and A Darker Shade of Magic, but this is better than either.