Publisher: Del Rey (May 19th 2015)
Hardcover: 438 pages
Add on: Goodreads
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
I feel like the blurb does not tell you much about the story. We know our heroine Agnieszka (whom I affectionately call Angie because I can’t actually say her name) gets chosen to be The Dragon’s (not a real dragon, but a wizard) next ‘assistant’, and that The Dragon protects everyone from the Wood. But after that it’s all kinda up in the air. I basically went into book kind of blind, which was both awesome and scary.
The reason why this is a winner of a book is easily because of the magical and vivid writing. It’s an epic fantasy-esque retelling that brings out the darker side of fairy tales. The story focuses on Agnieszka and her interaction the creepy woods. The woods is enthralling and is in itself a character of its own that is both terrifying and intriguing. Actually, scratch creepy, evil is a more apt description, how the woods can be so cunning and manipulative is beyond me. Novik does an amazing job of giving it life.
I quite adored Agnieszka, she’s beyond clumsy with a knack for dirtying her clothes, and is kind of unexceptional but she proves she can extraordinary when she needs to be with her loyalty and sass.
“What an unequaled gift for disaster you have.”
The Dragon is your grumpy brooding wizard who can’t quite figure out how he ended up with Agnieszka, despite being the one to choose her. It’s pretty funny. This basically summarizes their relationship:
“You intolerable lunatic,” he snarled at me, and then he caught my face between his hands and kissed me.”
Speaking of romance. Unfortunately there’s not enough of it /sadface. There are swoony moments, but I really wish Novik fleshed out their relationship more. I get that this book isn’t about the romance, but I felt it was kind of lacking, and it probably would have helped the development of the character more, in particular The Dragon. That being said, I do love Agnieszka and The Dragon, and as Aimee of Deadly Darling puts it perfectly: “You will just want to grab Agnieszka’s and the Dragon’s faces and smoosh them together!”
Overall, Uprooted was a rich magical tale of good versus evil. The hauntingly dark woods (which is easily the highlight of book) topped with the beautiful fairy tale inspired writing that’s still somehow unique, makes Uprooted such an adventurous and enjoyable read.
Find Naomi Novik:
a bum OT, procrastinator. reader. eater. sleeper. music listen-er. movie go-er. Loves food too much.