Review: Uprooted

Uprooted
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

Uprooted has this definite fairytale-retelling vibe going, but it is not really one, I guess? The closest I can come to is some form of Beauty and the Beast, but honestly it is this lovely and grim folk-tale-ish story of Agnieszka, a peasant girl living in a valley close to a dangerous enchanted forest. There, every ten years, the kingdom’s wizard, The Dragon, takes a 17-year old girl and keeps her at his castle until the next choosing. The mystery of why he does so unveils itself much later, but she is chosen for her affinity for magic, and he starts to train her. However, she has an aptitude for a different method of magic, which is unlike his rigid structural one, and together, they discover and learn more about the ways magic can be utilized, especially in conquering the evil that lurks in the forest.

Agnieszka is a typical clumsy girl at first glance, but she has strength and fire within her. She challenges every rule that is laid down upon her, and sometimes rushes into danger, which means the stoic and grumpy Dragon has to go rescue her. However, he is also amazed by the fact of her different brand of magic, and despite him sore about the fact that he can’t work it as she does, he lends a helping hand whenever she needs it. The other aspect of their relationship is the fact that he is over a century old, (but eternally young) like other wizards, and has become distant with humanity. Considering that is to be her lifespan as well, she challenges the notion that they have to be distant to deal with the eventual loss of what they love.

The immortality itself plays a subtle role in the plot, which extends from the enchantment covering the wood, the evil that has contaminated it, the greed of the kingdom’s rulers and their politics, to what it means to have roots. The plot unraveled beautifully under the author’s writing, and led to a spectacular and unexpected ending. The magic was a wonderful bit of world-building itself, and I loved how the author lent the Polish culture to the story in the form of songs and stories. In conclusion, a fantasy book for all fairytale lovers.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Uprooted

  1. Pingback: #TackleTBR Read-a-thon – Goals & Updates | YA on my Mind

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