5bat! Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

May 22, 2015 Review 1

5bat! Review: Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted by Naomi Novik
Published by Pan Macmillan UK on May 19th, 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 448
Source: Edelweiss
Excerpt: Excerpt
Sexual Content: Few non-explicit sex scenes.
Reviewed by: Kim
5 Stars

Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers 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 fathers 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, 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

UPROOTED weaves a magical, haunting tale, one that will be on your mind long after you put it down. The Wood, the malevolent forest that attempts to destroy Agineszka's valley and her entire world, growing dark, poisonous trees and sending terrifying “walkers”, giant wooden stick insect-like creatures, out to grab villagers. Told in Agnieszka's perspective, the book does allow multiple looks at other characters' feelings and motivations through a special trick that is too good to spoil. It helps round out the other characters, but also exposes some seriously scary stuff.

The writing is very well paced, with just enough description to immerse you in this fairy tale world without drowning the action. Although tons of characters introduced, the important ones are well described enough that I never got confused over who was who, and never had to stop and flip back a few pages to keep up with court drama, which I definitely appreciate in a fantasy book.

The best part for me was the love story between Agnieszka and Kasia – the love between best friends since childhood, almost close as sisters. There is nothing they wouldn't do for another, even after they both become so changed by their different exposure to the Wood and the world at large. This love is more central to the plot than the romance, although the romance in no way feels extraneous; it's actually quite nice to have it there, as another side of the coin.

I'd never read anything by Novik before, but having finished Uprooted, I am definitely going to add her to my to-read list.

UPROOTED is truly gory and horrifying at moments, subtly funny at other times. It feels like a traditional fairy tale, without the gloss and guaranteed happy ending that Disney has enforced over the years. I absolutely recommend this beautiful book.

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