Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Uprooted - Naomi Novik

Please welcome our guest reviewer, Karima Al-Absy!

Summary: 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. (Summary and image from goodreads.com)

My Review: I really liked this book, as in recommending it to everyone I meet levels of liked it. Uprooted is one of those novels that make you remember why you fell in love with a certain genre in the first place. It’s also one of those novels that stayed with me long after I finished it, altering the way I thought of certain things. 

Novik’s language style is lovely and sophisticated and even though she hits many common fantasy tropes—powerful wizard mentor, a cursed kingdom, a young protagonist discovering hidden powers— she puts enough of a spin on them that you can’t quite guess where the story is headed next. Many fantasy novels draw their inspiration from medieval Britain or France, but Uprooted shies away from that, expressing more of a Slavic influence than anything else (for one thing, the main character is named Agnieszka; for another, a powerful witch called Old Jagaplays a role in the novel, a nod to the Baba Yaga folklore of Eastern Europe.)

I love reading novels about women, written by women, and Uprooted is no exception. Agnieszka’s character is very well-written and it’s a delight to read the novel through her perspective. She believably transforms from a frightened peasant girl trapped in a tower to a powerful witch in her own right, with her voice remaining constant throughout. Her best friend, Kasia, also pleasantly surprised me, starting off as a Mary Sue, but exhibiting real depth later on. 
If anything, I wish the book was longer. I’d love to learn more about Agnieszka’s training with the Dragon or her visit to the capital city. As it stands though, this book is pretty darn near perfect

Rating: Four and a half stars

For the Sensitive Reader: Mild sexual content that younger readers may not find suitable

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