Uprooted by Naomi Novik – REVIEW
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.
“I was a glaring blot on the perfection. But I didn’t care: I didn’t feel I owed him beauty.”
I’ve heard people recommending this book for absolutely ages yet it’s stayed on my TBR pile for months. With the upcoming release of Spinning Silver, I decided to finally read Uprooted to see what all the fuss was about. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling with an ageless wizard as the Beast who takes a young girl from the village every ten years. The writing style was enchanting, with atmospheric descriptions and hauntingly lyrical language. It has incredible world-building and I honestly felt like I was part of the story. Every word seems to have been chosen with care, weaving a spell that had me enthralled from beginning to end.
“And I wasn’t old enough to be wise, so I loved her more, not less, because I knew she would be taken from me soon.”
The fleshed-out characters were superb, especially Agnieszka, and I loved her character development and friendship with Kasia. There was an attraction between Agnieszka and Sarkan but it felt secondary to the main plot which I appreciated. Women are definitely the key players in this story, holding the power to change their own and others’ destinies. The Wood was like another character with its physical and psychological horrors and insidious menace. The discovery of the origin behind the Wood’s savagery was skilfully plotted, allowing the reader to feel pity alongside horror. I certainly won’t be forgetting the Wood anytime soon.
“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”
The twists and turns of the plot created a rising tension and sense of impending doom that had me completely gripped. Sarkan was the only character that I failed to connect with as I felt like I barely knew him or his motivations. It was the strong portrayal of women that particularly resonated with me and made this book so memorable. I loved the open ending with the lingering sense of work still to be done. After reading this, I’m eagerly awaiting Spinning Silver, a Rumplestiltskin inspired story. I’ve already preordered my signed copy as I’m sure I’ll love it.