Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Macmillan (21st May 2015)
Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what the stories tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travellers 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 father’s 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, ambitious wizard known only as the Dragon, to keep the Wood’s powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost 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 no can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.
Rating: ***** (5 stars)
UPROOTED by Naomi Novik is a standalone young adult fantasy novel. The novel is heavily influenced by fairy tales and tells the story of Agnieszka who lives in a small village that is protected by the Dragon. Next to this village is the Wood, which casts a dark shadow. The book begins just before Dragon picks the next young woman to serve him.
Having read TEMERAIRE (review) I was curious to see how Novik would write a more fairy tale style fantasy novel. UPROOTED is a brilliant addition to the shelves of anyone who loves fairy tales and fantasy novels. Novik weaves a captivating tale that will keep you enthralled, and unable to put the book down – or at least, you’ll find yourself coming back again and again until you reach the end.
Agnieszka is an interesting main character. She (and the rest of the village) are convinced the Dragon will pick her best friend, as Kasia is everything that Agnieszka isn’t – brave, beautiful, and graceful. I really enjoyed Agnieszka’s down to earth nature, and the way she seemed to be so much at home in the village and valley that she grew up in. I also thought that Novik wrote a really great strong friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia, it was one of my favourite parts of the novel.
I thought the plot of UPROOTED was really interesting, and not quite what I was expecting. From the blurb I knew that there would be some twists, but even so Novik kept me guessing what was going to happen next. There were a lot of different twists and turns, but the story felt cohesive and I just became absorbed in the narrative.
The ending of UPROOTED is very fairy tale-esq, and quite beautiful and whilst I had an inkling about how it would end Novik still surprised me. Although this book sits nicely as a standalone novel, I’d of course love if there were more stories set in this world. There’s definitely the potential for it, and there’s a few character’s stories that I think would be interesting to see.
If you are a fan of the fairy tale or fantasy genre then be sure to check UPROOTED out. It’s a solid tale that links the two genres, and there are some intriguing twists and turns along the way. UPROOTED would also be a good starting point for those who are interested in exploring either genre but don’t want to commit to series.