I am in love with Naomi Novik’s novel Uprooted. Don’t worry, this review has no spoilers.
I finished this book in two days and it would have been one if I hadn’t started reading after 10PM. Uprooted is a fantasy novel about a young teen pulled from her home and forced to live with a man called the Dragon. Why? Because she has some strange power and he chooses a girl every ten years.
The main character, Agnieszka, has always been a tomboy. She loved going into the grove and manages to get dirty even on the shortest of excursions so she was scared and unprepared when she was chosen by the lord of her land and the best wizard in the kingdom, the Dragon. She is frightened and hates the torture that the Dragon claims is training but she knows she has to because she has to live with him for the next ten years.
Uprooted is set in a wonderful world and Agnieszka’s hometown is just a few miles from the Wood. The Wood is a haunted, foreboding place: the fruit and water is poisonous, venturing into it leads you to become deranged and sometimes creatures venture forth to spread the poison or to force people to become one with the Wood. The protagonist discovers that it is the Dragon’s job to keep the Wood from spreading and she discovers that she is adept at the craft, albeit not in the usual sense. When the Dragon is called away she enjoys the reprieve only to discover that the warning torches have been lit and that no one can help. Agnieszka finds her way out of the Dragon’s tower and to the town, she has to help the people she loves.
Altruism and love are two of the major driving characters of Novik’s protagonist. They lead her to adventures and cause her to do some things that are somewhat unnecessary. In all honesty, Agnieszka could have saved her self a lot of trouble if she thought before she acted. Although a bit flawed and maybe a little too caring, Agnieszka finds herself in one situation after another eventually causing her to enter the Wood, be forced to stay in the capital for a while and lead her to be the excuse for a small war. What? Yes, that is exactly what I said. The main character got herself and thousands of others into a rather inconvenient altercation, to say the least.
The supporting characters are no less amazing. The Dragon, Kasia (Agnieszka’s best friend), even Marek (the second prince) all have their own arcs. There is suspense, conflict, pain, revenge, loss, love and want. Each character has their own motives, their own sense of justice and they fight for it with all they have just as they try and fight the Wood and the evil dwelling within it.
Furthermore, Novik uses description in such a lucid and eerie way that it can only help build the magical setting behind this novel. From the steps of the tower to the castle and the rude nobles of the capital to the Wood and its gnarled evil minions Novik forces the reader to go there, to transport themselves and feel the fear and confusion that the characters feel, the terror that comes with uncertainty. This is what is forced upon you as you read Uprooted but it is done in such a way that you welcome it, you welcome the terror, the magic, the feeling of needing to know what comes next drives you and you keep reading. You read because you are lost in the book just as those in the Wood are lost, you are lost and cannot comprehend it until you have turned the last page and closed the cover.
At the end of the book I was truly satisfied. All readers know that there is a feeling, a high that only comes after a truly amazing adventure on the page and Novik’s novel has done just that. I was more than pleased with this book and strongly suggest you pick it up and give it a read. And if you have read it, how did you like it? Comment below.