Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Publisher: Del Rey
Synopsis: 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.
Review: So I started reading this book when I joined in with a Books and Tea read-a-long, and I have to say I really enjoyed it! This book certainly has it's problems, but the story is so fantastic that I somehow managed to overlook them and love it anyway; plus it was kind of like a more way more adult Howl's Moving Castle, and I love that book way too much so I think I was always going to enjoy Uprooted.
This book perfectly melds magical folklore fantasy and an accessible prose that's a joy to read. I just could not put this book down and powered through it in two days; I was even late to work because it was just so good! I just love the way it is written; Naomi does first person so well, and this is coming from a person who despises that tense.
The whole concept of a sentient forest gradually engulfing the country was so well done, and when the magic behind the forest is revealed it makes it even better. Nothing in this book is black and white, and I love a book where the evil is evil for an actual reason.
I loved Agnieszka she was fabulous! When I started reading I thought the Dragon was going to change her from a clumsy peasant girl into a respectable woman, but instead she stuck to her roots and changed him a little. She definitely grows and changes with the development of her magic, and if you've read my reviews before you'll know I love good character development! Agnieszka's relationship with Kasia was probably my favourite aspects of the book; there was clearly so much love between the two, and honestly I would have preferred that Kasia be Agnieszka's romantic interest but that's just me.
The Dragon was probably my main issue with the book, and he's definitely no Howl that's for sure. He definitely starts off as a bit of a bully, and I just wanted him to leave poor Agnieszka alone; but as Agnieszka grows into a stronger person he changes and becomes better too, although he does retain his rather cold exterior he quickly becomes softer on the inside. It's tough for me because I liked Agnieszka and Kasia's relationship dynamic, and found that I didn't really need the romance between her and the Dragon.
At the end of the day I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I found it unputdownable! The world that Naomi builds is so wonderfully deep, that it felt like I was reading a Studio Ghibli movie. Agnieszka is a fabulous heroine, she pushes through every challenge she is faced with, and grows wonderfully as a character!
Recommend: If you're looking for some standalone fantasy that'll leave you wanting more then this is the book for you!!
Stars: ★★★★★ (4.7ish)