Uprooted

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey on May 19th 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 438
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four-stars

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
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.

A Polish folklore/fairytale. A wizard known as Dragon. A mystical forest. Adventure and romance.

If that doesn’t sound like a book you want to read…. well then, I don’t know how to help you. All I can say is that this book was a wonderful diversion from every day life and a uniquely wonderful take on Polish folklore, with a hint of the classic Grimm’s fairytales.

My attention was immediately drawn to the cover of this lovely book. In every edition that has been published, the book exudes what one would imagine a story book of old would look like. You know what I mean, one of those old leather binding ones like in Once Upon a Time with vines and lacy edges. After doing a bit more research with regards to the plot and the author, I was sold.

The book begins…

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside  our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Within the first few pages, Naomi Novik casts us into the story and into this village that sits on the outskirts of a menacing woods. The Dragon acts as the town’s protector and takes one young girl every ten years in order to continue his job. Uprooted begins the year that Agnieszka is taken. She did not think it would be her.

“The Dragon didn’t always take the prettiest girl, but he always took the most special one, somehow: if there was one girl who was far and away the prettiest, or the most bright, or the best dancer, or especially kind, somehow he always picked her out, even though he scarcely exchanged a word with the girls before he made his choice.”

And Agnieszka does not think that she is this girl. In fact, she anticipates her friend Kasia will be taken, whom she thinks suits all of these attributes. However, plans change and Agnieszka is chosen to live with the Dragon in his tower. Thus begins her adventure to discover herself, her powers, and everything that makes her special.

I think that there are some very beautiful and unique components to this story. Novik states that she was raised on Polish folklore and Baba Yaga, and that is evident through out this story. I recently recommended Uprooted to a friend who made the comment that she found so many new words to look up because Novik laces traditional Polish words through out. This might be one of my favorite things about her as an author.

Novik is not afraid to take folklore and classic fairytales and twist them into a modern heroine tale.

After reading this book, I plan on exploring more of her work. Naomi Novik has a large list of tales that mirror Uprooted, and I found myself sucked in to her writing style.

The ending alone has me in anticipation of more. I love that she takes a young
girl who thinks nothing of herself and forces her out of her comfort zone, which propels self-discovery. It’s an amazing story of what travel and reading and adventure can do for your own individual growth. This is definitely a book you should pick up if you love fairy tales and stories about personal journeys. There are even some steamy romance moments that took my breath away.

 

four-stars

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