Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Publication: May 19, 2015 by Del Rey
Find it on Goodreads: Uprooted
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.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
I started reading this book around the time I gave birth. I took a short hiatus from reading at the time and this poor book suffered. I tried to keep picking it up even though I had a newborn who was in a constant state of hunger. This book had so much hype surrounding it that I was desperate to read and finish it. Even the bookseller at Barnes and Noble said he loves this author and her writing. I can read different books in different atmospheres, and I really struggled with this one. I could only read it when the house was quiet so that I could fully immerse myself in the world and the writing style.
Fortunately, I have finished this book…7 months later.
This is my first book review ever, so bear with me and try not to cringe.
This will be more of a character review since I didn’t want to spoil the twists or plot.
I am so happy to have finished it. I loved this book despite how long it took to finish. I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads only because it had a slow start in the first few chapters. Naomi Novik grew up with Polish folktales, and her writing made the story feel like one I could read over and over again.
The Wood was such an amazing aspect in the story. It was ominous and gave off this uneasy feeling in the back of my mind the whole time I was reading. Even when the characters weren’t in the Wood, I thought about it. Novik did a great job depicting the Wood as not a thing, but a living being that could sense, grow, and devour.
I admire Agneiszka’s character. She’s headstrong and curious. It’s nice to see a character who is strong, but not invincible. Her fear is what drives her to keep going. She annoys the Dragon to no end, but she doesn’t let that stop her. The encounters with the Dragon are pretty spiteful and I am living for it.
The Dragon is cold, harsh, and downright petty. He is a character I hate, but also can’t help loving. His attitude towards taking Agneiszka to his tower is one of contempt. He is constantly irritated and rolling his eyes at Agneiszka. I can relate to him on a spiritual level in that aspect. He was still annoyed with her on the last page. The Dragon even asks “what have you done now?” multiple times in the book.
The relationship between them reminds me of an annoyed parent and a child who can’t manage to stay out of trouble. Both Agneiszka and the Dragon are prideful, and they butt heads a lot which is something I like in a story. I like when a relationship between two characters has a slow build-up (this story definitely does that). The primary focus of the story is on conquering the Wood, not romance, so the tidbits we do get are so much better.
The magic system in this book was easy enough to grasp. The writing style made the magic and spells feel like they were constantly flowing. I enjoyed the world-building in this novel. Fairytales and folklore are my favorite stories to read because they are full of magic, whimsy, and so many unconventional things we don’t see day-to-day. This book delivered.
I am so excited to explore more of Naomi Novik’s writing. I’ll be reading and reviewing Spinning Silver soon.
Lastly, I’ll have reviews of The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King by Holly Black coming in the next week!