Review: Uprooted

UprootedNaomi Novik, Uprooted

For as long as anyone can remember, Agnieszka’s tiny village has lived under the shadow of the Wood, a forest possessed by dark magic that corrupts everything and everyone that ventures too close to its borders. Fortunately, the village is also protected by the Dragon — not a literal dragon, but a powerful wizard whose magic helps to keep the Wood at bay. But the Dragon demands a price for his services: every ten years, he takes a girl from the village back to his tower with him. The girls always return at the end of ten years, apparently unharmed, but they never stay in the village for long. Agnieszka was born in a Dragon year, so she has the potential to be the one chosen as the next tribute. But everyone knows the Dragon will choose Kasia, the kindest and most beautiful girl in the village, who happens to be Agnieszka’s best friend. Agnieszka already hates the Dragon for taking Kasia away. But of course, when the Dragon actually comes, it’s Agnieszka whom he takes. At first, torn from everything she’s ever known, Agnieszka is shocked and afraid, and the Dragon treats her with coldness and contempt. But when she discovers that she herself has magical abilities, she is eventually able to stand with the Dragon in the fight against the Wood.

This is, hands down, my new favorite book of the year so far! Everything about the lush, magical writing completely sucked me in; I wanted to devour it and savor it at the same time. I’m actually somewhat at a loss to describe exactly why this book worked so well for me. For starters, Agnieszka is a heroine after my own heart. While she’s not immune from fear and self-doubt, she doesn’t allow those emotions to rule her life. She also remains staunchly loyal to her friends and family back home, and when Kasia needs help later in the novel, Agnieszka is the first person to rush to her aid. I also really grew to love the Dragon, although he’s an indisputable jerk at first — a bit Darcy-esque, in a way, which possibly explains things. 🙂 And the plot is just as compelling as the characters: I completely believed in the menace of the Wood and Agnieszka’s growing belief that it needs to be stopped once and for all. In short, have you ever started a book and felt like it was written specifically with you in mind, because it has everything you love and unfolds so perfectly? Uprooted is definitely one of those books for me! It’s everything I want my epic fantasy to be, and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

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