Uprooted by Naomi Novik
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.
My rating: 5/5 magic gold stars
My review: Uprooted is one of my all-time favorite novels, a nostalgic fairy tale with a twist of darkness spiked right through the heart of it. Novik draws from old Polish myths and legends to create a world that feels surprisingly grounded in reality. I think it’s the characters. They feel real- complex, three dimensional, and often unlikeable- even when they are doing magic and fighting mythic monsters. The story stays intriguing from start to finish and oh, that ending. So many stories reach so far that it is impossible to find a satisfying way to come back down to a conclusion. That was not the case for Uprooted. I couldn’t have been more surprised by the depth and emotion Novik poured into that gorgeous ending, while perfectly bouncing back on the last few pages with a hopeful and sweet resolution for the two main characters.
I often close the book on standalone fantasy novels feeling like there is something missing, that something was rushed or could’ve used more explanation, but I can’t say the same for Uprooted. This book is perfect just the way it is.
If you like old lore, perfectly crafted characters, and fairy tales with a gritty edge of realism, check out Uprooted today. It is a perfect example of a contemporary fantasy novel and I can’t recommend it highly enough!