December 15, 2015

These Are Dangerous Woods • Uprooted

Uprooted book cover
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

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.

My experience reading Uprooted started off shaky. It was quite nerve-wracking to get roughly 100 pages into this one, and still be having a lukewarm response to it. Fortunately, even though I couldn't tell you exactly when, things took a turn for the better. The pace picked up, the details came together, and suddenly, I realized I was invested in learning what would become of Agnieszka and her world. Suffice it to say, I tore through the latter half of the story, desperate to find out how everything would end. 

Everything about Uprooted, save perhaps the slow, deliberate narration that won't be everyone's cup of tea, is actually remarkable. The characters truly come alive, coaxed into a being with a complexity in their personalities and emotions. The story reads like a fairy tale, filled with trials and magic and triumphs for our lead. The tone stays steady all throughout, whimsical enough to capture our fancy, dark enough to captivate our thoughts. It's really a well-constructed tale, and it is Novik's storytelling ability that really won me over as a fan in the end.

I didn't love this story as much as everyone else did, mostly because it took me a while to adjust to the author's narrative style. But once it clicked for me, I was mesmerized by the cleverness and imagination Novik employed in telling her tale. I think Uprooted is, at its heart, a fascinating modern take on a fairytale. And though I will warn you about the slow beginning (particularly for those who are new to fantasy or light fantasy readers), I will also tell you that it's well worth the read.


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