Uprooted by Naomi Novik, published May 2015 by Macmillan.
Read: August 2015
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads 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, 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 one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.
I was sent a beautiful hardback copy of this book from my #otspsecretsister, who informed me that she had to get me a copy when she saw it on my wishlist, because it was her favourite book of the year. *Gulp*. No pressure. I’m still pretty new to the Fantasy genre, which means I approach it tentatively at best, but I’ve definitely discovered that I need to be braver in 2016, because Fantasy and me get on much better than I tend to think. From the start, Uprooted was a very unique and curious read – and while it was slow initially, it was still very gripping, particularly the magic system, and I really struggled to put it down.
Much of my exposure to Fantasy has been Sarah J Maas and Cassandra Clare, and while their stories do have magic systems, demons and dark elements, this book was the darkest I’ve read yet. The “evil” in this book, for much of the story, doesn’t have a physical identity as such… I know, it sounds complicated, and it is. There is an overarching Gothic feeling to the story. The evil is ominous and creepy. The story is very intricate and detailed, with very descriptive imagery, which while beautiful, also made for a complex, and at times, difficult to comprehend setting. If I’m being honest, I’m probably still not 100% sure what went down towards the end of the book, and a reread is in order to fully appreciate the depth of the storytelling.
Uprooted gets off to a slow start, but I still struggled to put it down. The story was very unique to me, so even though the storytelling could be slow, I was intrigued enough to want to continue. Once the action hits in the second half of the book, the pace really picks up and you do get that sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat feeling. This novel is a standalone, and part of me applauds the author for being able to tell such an intricate Fantasy tale in one book, but part of me also wonders would I have enjoyed it more as a series to allow for more detailed world-building and character back-story? It’s difficult to tell.
The magic system is well-crafted, unique and beautifully written, and considering I usually prefer much more structure and explanation, it was obviously well-done for me to enjoy its organic and original nature. Initially, I really disliked the Dragon, but he went on to become one of my favourite characters. His sarcasm and dour mood kept me highly entertained, and as for that hint of romance – it thankfully isn’t the main plot-line, but it’s done so very well, especially a surprisingly raunchy scene that had me fully appreciating Novik’s writing ability.
“You intolerable lunatic,” he snarled at me, and then he caught my face between his hands and kissed me.”
“I don’t want more sense!” I said loudly, beating against the silence of the room. “Not if sense means I’ll stop loving anyone. What is there besides people that’s worth holding on to?”
Have you read Uprooted? Did you love it, or have issues with it? Let me know in the comments!