Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Posted On 20 December 2015

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22544764Uprooted was my first book by Naomi Novik but it certainly won’t be my last.  This book is a delicious combination of fairytale, fantasy and beautiful storytelling.  It took me by surprise and I loved it.

The story is based in, well, your basic fairytale setting!  A small village nestled up against a foreboding wood, the mountains looming in the distance.  The villagers are all scared of the wood and pay it a certain sort of respect in that they never under estimate what could happen!  In a tower on the outskirts of the village lives a powerful sorcerer.  At 150 years of age he still appears as a young man and his magic keeps the wood from encroaching further and swallowing the village and it’s people entirely.  Every ten years, the sorcerer chooses a girl from the village.  Of course the villagers don’t rebel against this because the sorcerer is their only source of protection.  In fact, over the years the villagers, recognising the girls that will be chosen, prepare them for this eventuality.  Nobody knows why the sorcerer needs the girls.  Whether he has lewd plans or uses them for something even more nefarious!

We start the story with Agnieszka and what a wonderful narrator she is.  She totally captivated me from page one.  Her lifelong friend, Kasia, is the village beauty and, as such has been long acknowledged as the sorcerer’s (or Dragon’s) next choice.  Of course the villagers know the year that a new girl will be chosen which makes it easy to narrow down the possibilities.  However, when the time comes things are turned on their head slightly and totally out of character the Dragon chooses Agnieszka.  A choice which is about to turn both their worlds upside down.

So, characters.  Well, I liked Agnieszka.  I liked her honesty in the face of certain revelations that occur during the story.  I liked her narrative voice and her loyalty to her friend.  She’s not perfect.  Sometimes you could shake her.  Sometimes you could almost shout into the pages to her but overall I really liked her.  Sarkan.  Well, he’s 150 years old and frankly he’s a grumpy and curmudgeonly so and so.  He’s been far removed from polite society for too long and he just doesn’t know how to treat people any longer.  He’s thoroughly rude to Agnieszka on occasion and he certainly has no intention of making her transition easy, in fact it wouldn’t even occur to him to do so.  However, Agnieszka seems to surprise him out of his comfort zone on a fairly regular basis, she’s got magic of her own and she seems much more adept than he would have ever considered.  Mysteriously, the girls from the village are needed for a certain reason and he’s not really trying to form lasting friendships here.  All the girls, upon leaving, usually seek new starts elsewhere.  The village just doesn’t seem to hold the same appeal to them any longer.

Recall the song, ‘if you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise’ well, the wood in this story is the surprise character.  Wonderfully sinister and with a history of it’s own it seems to ooze malevolence and is full of magic and mystery.  This wood has it’s own tale to tell.

Now, a few things here.  Firstly, and I won’t elaborate, but the dragon (or Sarkan) has his own reasons for the choices he makes.  The Villagers also have their own reasons for staying put and seemingly giving up a girl every ten years and likewise the girls have their own reasons for leaving after their time at the tower concludes.  That all sounds very teasing but I’m afraid I can’t say more.

The world is a wonderful fantasy and fairytale place combined.  The magic is creative and unusual.  The characters are alternately grumpy and stubborn, there’s some wonderful sizzling going on between the main pair, although this is not a story focused on romance.  The plot is a lovely combination of fairytales with echoes of Baba Yaga and Beauty and the Beast.

I really enjoyed this and can’t wait to read more from this author.

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11 Responses to “Uprooted by Naomi Novik”

  1. jenclair

    🙂 I really liked this one, too!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Being a bit late to this one I wondered about the hype but I thoroughly enjoyed it so for once the hype was deserved it seems.
      Lynn 😀

  2. proxyfish

    I’ve had my eye on this for a short while but now I have to have it! Great review – this sounds like a wonderfully enchanting read!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed the fairytale aspect and the start is really good and just totally pulled me in.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I loved this book, and oh my, sizzling is an understatement – that love scene was one of the hottest things I read all year 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was pretty good!! I could have done with a little bit more tbh!
      Lynn 😀

  4. Sharry

    Yay you read Uprooted! 😀 Agnieszka and Sarkan’s chemistry definitely sizzles 😛 This book had me gleefully laughing, gasping in shock, and feeling totally *whelmed* with tears of emotion. All in a stand alone!! Easily top best read of this year!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It had me gleefully laughing and gasping too. So good.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    Totally agree, Agnieszka and Sarkan were on fire! Haha. I absolutely adored the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia – I think it’s one of the best female friendships I’ve read about in YA, actually. So glad you loved this one, too! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was really good, very quick to read because I didnt put it down much!
      Lynn 😀

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