Uprooted by Naomi Novik (2015)

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik (2015)Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Published: Del Rey Books (2015), eARC, 448pg
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance

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’ve been excited for Uprooted for nearly a year now, ever since I found a sampler at ALA Annual last June. I’d already read and loved Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, and I was very excited to see what she’d do with a non-Napoleonic setting and more overtly classical fairy tale influences.

NN has done the writerly equivalent of took a level in badass with Uprooted. It is heaps of fun (although not in a funny ha-ha way) and I sincerely hope a bunch of you go out and get it soon so we can talk about it together.

A list of things to be found and enjoyed in Uprooted:
1. Amazingly complex (female) protagonist who starts out kind of whiny and terrible and grows into a much better person by the end.
2. Grouchy Beast-like mentor/teacher/hero dude. He’s not actually secretly cuddly but he’s also kind of IS? Complexity!
4. Kasia, who starts out as a damsel in major distress and then Things Happen and suddenly she’s rescuing OTHER damsels.2
5. Super creepy forest with enough monsters to last at least twelve books and maybe a TV show adaptation.
6. Polish names/myths/etc. everywhere! Is this set in a fantasy Poland? Something?
7. The magical system reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones’ Pinhoe Egg where there’s the High Magic stuff and then also a Low Magic/hedge magic situation and nobody understands each other. Fun! Also how the hedge magic is tied directly into the valley/the forest.
8. The villain is seriously creepy but also has layers of characterization by the end. Everyone is very well-written in Uprooted; they’re never just one thing. Even the pervert prince shows good points throughout the book!

Uprooted is a heck of an entertaining book with wonderful characters and a fascinating setting. Go pick it up!

Read: April 30-May 1, 2015

Here’s a different version of the cover. I adore the colors on this one:
uprooted second cover

  1. Sidenote: I actually really wanted Agnieszka and Kasia to be the romantic couple/a romantic couple/something because they had mad chemistry. And it kinda felt like it was heading that direction, except suddenly it got cut off? I love the friendship angle, still, but I would have loved it EVEN MORE if they were girlfriends, too.
  2. Would love more Kasia adventures tbh. I really want to explore what happened to her between not being picked, being kidnapped by forest monsters, and then becoming a near-invincible hero. Since the book is from Agnieszka’s POV, Kasia becomes something of a mystery once she changes and we don’t know what’s going on with her, not really. Kasia POV book, please!

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