Published by Macmillan on May 21, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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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.
Uprooted was a truly magical and enchanting experience that combined magic, a wonderful fairy tale world and blurred lines between good and evil. It starts off as a Beauty and the Beast retelling, introducing us to Dragon (who’s actually a Wizard) who comes to a village every 10 years and takes a girl back to his tower. As the story builds upon the intrigue behind Dragon and his magic, and how Agnieszka copes with it all, it slowly builds and builds, into an epic fantasy tale that will EXPLODE into an action-packed crescendo at the end of the book.
The start of the book slowly introduces us to Agneiszka and Dragon as they get to know each other. Although Dragon is an ages old Wizard and Agneiszka is a 17 year old girl, it doesn’t come off as creepy, especially when you find out his motives.
‘He wasn’t a person, he was a lord and a wizard, a strange creature on another plane entirely, as far removed as storms and pestilence. But he had stepped down from that plane; he had given me real kindness.’
I loved the intelligent, meticulous and restrained Dragon, who reminded me so much of Mr Darcy. He’s completely clueless when it comes to the lively Agneiszka, who is so different to the other girls that he’s taken under his wing. She may not be the most beautiful or polite maiden, but just her charm, smarts and loyalty just made her feel so real and vibrant. She’s clumsy and always makes a mess of herself but she’s just incredibly lively, loving and intuitive.
All of the characters here are flawed which made them real and authentic, from Dragon wasn’t particularly in touch with his emotions, to Agnieszka’s plain and clumsy self, the Prince who was just looking out for himself and the strong, confident and beautiful Kasia who everyone dismisses as simply being pretty. The supportive friendship between Kasia and Agnieszka was enviable, with mutual love and respect for each other, despite their differences. No matter what, they stood by each other which helped them both into the strong heroines they became.
Magic is the crux of the story in Uprooted, and it plays a big part in the world building and the development between Agnieszka and Dragon. This fairy tale world, filled with spoken magical words, the forces of good and evil, enchanted creatures and the foreboding woods was just so enveloping. It’s the little details that made the world really come to life, with the food, fashions, language and lore and the creatures all weaving into the book beautifully.
“I’m not stupid, nor a liar,” I said, “and if I can’t do any good, I can at least do something”
Part Beauty and the Beast, fairy tale and epic fantasy, Uprooted was something completely unique and refreshing, filled with magic, enchanting characters, twists and action in a beautiful fairy tale setting. The blurred lines between good and evil, the heroism, and the flawed royalty just completely blew me away. It’s a shame it’s a standalone though – I would have loved more of this wonderful world and of course, more Dragon!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me this book for review!