I had intended to do some more posts before this but things never usually go to plan. There has been so much negativity the past couple of days due to the Referendum that I wanted to escape to a different world. I did just that by reading Uprooted. This book was randomly grabbed in Waterstones on a shopping trip. I was drawn by the beautiful book cover and the promise of enchantment. After looking into more about the author I found out that Naomi Novik had also written the award winning ‘Temeraire’ series, which I am shocked I haven’t come across before but I would really like to read them also.
Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. A young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all she values behind.
Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she’s everything Agnieszka is not- beautiful, graceful and brave. Hey when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he takes. [blurb from Amazon]
As soon as I read the blurb for this book I knew that I had to read it. I was expecting another dark fairytale and it is exactly what I got and more. It toke me about 100 pages or so to get completely enthralled but when I did, I was completely in love.
The book is told very masterfully in the first person and begins as a twist on the cliche Dragon steals beautiful maiden. In this case the Dragon is a powerful wizard who, every 10 years takes a 17 year old girl from one of the villages in protects from the Wood, keeping her captive for unknown reasons.
Most fantasy novels I come across are so obsessed with creating the next big love story and have the main character always fall in love with the stereotypical ‘bad guy’. Uprooted does have a love story but its not one you would assume. I think ultimately the story focusses more on friendships and what you would do to save the people you love. I love this and the fact the romance was certainly not the main focus point of the novel, sometimes less romance is good and it made the book feel different and special.
A few other reviewers have also suggested that this novel is similar to Beauty and the Beast. I would say in some areas it is but it has clearly been influenced more by Slavic fairytales, especially of Baba Yaga, who is mentioned as old Baba Jaja. I did feel as though I wanted to learn more about this witch and the connection between her and the protagonist. I really hope that this novel doesn’t stay a stand alone and that Novik does a sequel, it would be very welcomed. I also wouldn’t take this novel and say it is a Beauty and the Beast rendition as I think it would totally change my opinion of it, so go into reading it as a blank slate.
Uprooted is so filled with magic, with wizards, witches, and a enchanted forest that are all equally as dangerous as one another from casting new spells or producing nightmarish creatures. The beautiful imagery of the antagonist,The Wood, to just a stream is beautiful, making the magic of the whole novel just that more tangible to reader. This novel very much allowed me to escape and it has become one of my favourite fantasy novels I have read this year.
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