I did not want to review this novel because I can only say one thing about it: amazing! Absolutely amazing. Either that or I’d have a very hard time stopping myself from rambling on and on about how good it is 😀
However, it’s a July goal for me to review 2 books, not 1 so, I am duty bound.
From the author’s website:
“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.
Skillfully written by Naomi Novik, Uprooted is based on a Polish fairytale with an unlikely heroin who, unbeknownst to all including herself, possesses great magical powers. Her powers play a vital role in vanquishing an evil force, an enchanted forest that is threatening to corrupt and swallow the countries Polya and Rosya. Anybody who ever enters the Wood beware, it is said that death in comparison is even merciful.
The descriptions of the Wood immediately brought to mind Game of Thrones’ ‘other side of the wall’, where wights have the equivalent of ‘walkers’ in Uprooted – there are differences in physical appearance but both are equally frightening. As well, I haven’t been as enthralled with a book like this since GOT.
The sinister force emanating from the Wood has been steadily growing for hundreds of years silently mocking the king’s most powerful wizards. The ‘Dragon’ is the most skilled of them all, and he lives alone in a tower guarding the Wood, ready to assist villagers who fall victim to its sinister and frequent attacks. However, the Wood is not only malevolent and magical, it is also a smart and stealthy opponent that knows how to use man’s frailties to get what it wants.
I mentioned Game of Thrones here and that is saying a lot. But where Game of Thrones toys with our emotions by brutally killing off every character we desperately cling to in an attempt to get a respite from all the chaos that’s happening (sorry, I just have to mention that), Uprooted is mercifully straightforward – good and evil do not interchange multiple times throughout the story. In Uprooted, we know who the enemy is, we gradually understand how it operates, and the heroes have the capability to defeat it, albeit not easily and not completely at once. Oh and, bonus, the heroes remain alive till the end of the story! 🙂
Even the corrupt Wood can be likened to Maleficent, the root of its evil has a relatable story – but I’ve already spilled too much, let me just keep that for you to discover ❤
What I didn’t like was the sexual intimacy that happened between the Dragon and Agniezka. I did not think it was necessary [to the story] and it came across as cheap. Let us imagine Optimus Prime as somehow having the ability to get romantically involved with a human, and a lady and single version of Sam Witwicky, do you honestly think some romance is needed between the two? Heck no! Let’s just get on with the fight against evil, shall we? I remember rolling my eyes and going “blech!” – incidentally, the only thing in Uprooted that disappointed me.
So let me (finally!) close with: this book is ah-mazing. It has all the right ingredients for a Grimm-esque fairy tale and wraps up neatly on a promising note.
~ Paardje 💋