Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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.

Release Date: May 19, 2015
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli

Oh, oh, oh, was this book good!  I loved Uprooted from the first words to the last.  I didn't want this book to end!  I was completely entrapped by the story, Novik's captivating world, and her lyrical prose.

From the very first page, I knew I was going to love Uprooted.  There is an intrinsic quality to good writing, one I can't even name.  When an author has it, they have it.  Naomi Novik has it and it shows.  Her writing drew me in from the very first words, and I was almost spell-bound as I read.  I simply couldn't put this book down.

In my experience, long books like Uprooted often get draggy in the middle.  That was not the case with this story.  Novik kept a great pace, and the action didn't stop for the entire book.  It was very intense for being such a long read. 

I love it when stories move through a long period of time because it allows for so much action and character development.  Uprooted spanned many months, maybe even a year, and there was just so much going on.  I loved the plot twists, surprises along the way, and the way the story came full circle.

I loved so many things about Uprooted but my favorite thing of all was Agnieszka herself.  She is not your typical heroine.  She's plain, always gets dirty (no matter how hard she tries not to!) and very practical.  Agnieszka loves being outside and especially being in the forest.  If this was a contemporary story, she would have been living on a farm, growing all of her own food.  Agnieszka was that kind of girl.  Novik drew away from the norm with her choice of heroine and I love her for that. 

Agnieszka is a strong young woman, full of self-assurance and determination.  She is true to herself and her calling.  She doesn't need or want saving from a man and I loved that about her.  Agnieszka is true to her calling and accepts it, even though it's not what she expected or desired, with grace and dignity.  The ending of the story was so perfect and true to Agnieszka as a character.  I loved it. 

I don't often read high fantasy, but books like Uprooted make me remember just how much I like this genre.  I loved that I didn't have to work to remember the rules of Agnieszka's world.  Sometimes high fantasy books can feel like work to read because I'm trying to keep all of the background information straight in my head as I read.  That wasn't the case here: I fell into the story and grudgingly crawled out as the book ended. 

I can't say enough good things about Uprooted.  I highly recommend it!

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