Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

May 10, 2015 5 stars, Book Review 19 ★★★★★

Review: Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey on May 19, 2015
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy
Pages: 448
Source: Publisher
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“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.


Start making with the grabby hands!

If there is one fantasy novel that you must read this year UPROOTED should be it! It had everything I could possibly have wanted and more.

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I really could go on and on but I guess I better leave you some surprises. I didn’t even touch on all of the things you will encounter.

Ah snap, you’re all that and a peanut butter banana sandwich

Perhaps some of you might be scoffing at my outpouring of love for this book because really what have I told you except for a few tidbits that are in the book? Ok the prose, oh I loved it. The reading was so smooth! It is getting rare these days that I click so instantly with a writer’s style. The balance of show and tell was perfect and the heroine’s voice so strong! Agnieszka was alive for me from almost the very first pages. Even better was how well treated the supporting characters were. They were given just enough character development that I felt their presence in the story instead of them just being stage extras. Even the way the community of village people and the nobles in the capital were portrayed was excellent. I experienced both the best and the worst that people are capable of while reading this book and it just makes me want to read it again and again!

A tasty mixing of darkness and light your reading buds have been yearning for

Real fairytales to me are dark and that is exactly what Uprooted was. Dark and foreboding and yet there was still hope and yes even humor. I found out that this book was inspired by a mix of European folklore. While reading I encountered Baba Jaga (pronounced yagga), what I believed to be a land inspired by Poland (one of the very minor characters even had my cousin’s polish name Malghorzata). Readers that love seeing folklore reimagined will likely adore this book. Perhaps I was just the perfect reader for this book because the wry humor of Agnieszka’s use of magic and being stuck in those ridiculous dresses and her struggle to learn magic with the Dragon helped balance the more somber moments. Those times when there was death and torture or when the dark wood reached out into the valley to torment people. And torment is exactly what you will see, there is death and horror in these pages but not too much and not too little. Also I have to note it was so well done the way the bond of friendship plays an important role in this story. It’s uncommon enough of a plot theme that I absolutely love it when I see it. I felt like it showed a look at real friendship, the way we harbor ugly thoughts for the ones we care about just as much as we love them.

Give me the Dragon! Roar

Ok so when I say Dragon I mean the wizard whose name is Dragon. Don’t get all excited like I originally was thinking you’re going to get a fire breathing dragon. But you know I wasn’t disappointed at all. This wizard was fabulous. He was broody, cantankerous, anti-social, suspicious…you name it. And yet he was lonely and fair and misunderstood and and hot damn I just really loved him. I’ve got a thing for wizards ok? – I always think they are the coolest characters when done right and he was done really well! Now calm down self. Anyways, what I would have loved was more of him. There was a large chunk of the second half of the book where he is in the valley and Agnieszka is in the capitol so we don’t get to see him again for awhile. But we do get to meet a bunch of other full of themselves wizards. Maybe that’s inherent part of being a wizard, thinking you know it all? So I still really enjoyed the part that Agnieszka spent away in the Capital. But when she returns to the valley oh honey honey.

and more…

There is a lot going on in Uprooted. It is but just a fairytale but let’s call it an epic fairytale because it concerns the fate of an entire country of people and beyond, not just hers and those that live in the valley. This is a tale where we witness not just Agnieszka’s coming of age but her maturing and taking on a a difficult but important role. One no one asked her to do but one she knows needs doing nonetheless. At the same time it covers the history of the valley and ancient peoples that no longer live there. At every turn I felt like the story was widening to encompass something more and yet not losing its depth in any given area. This excellent storytelling didn’t miss a beat!

The verdict

If you love fantasy and fairytales you must read Uprooted. If you fear the Dark Wood then you must read Uprooted. If you need a strong female friendship in your fiction then you can find it right here. And if you need like just a smidge of romance to sweeten a bitter pot then look no further. Uprooted is now among my favorite books and will be revisited by me again and again. I’m only sad I can’t have that “first read” experience over and over again – but I always love rereadings ones like this because I find little nuances that I might have missed the first time around. And if I didn’t hype it up enough for you then just go read another random review, I dare you. I am not alone.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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19 Responses to “Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik”

  1. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    THIS BOOK^^ I NEED IT. Like, NOW! Seeing all the positive reviews for it have me beyond excited but it’s always better coming from a fellow fantasy-lover ;D Darkness plus humor is a recipe for success in my book! Wonderful review Tabitha! x
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  2. Dragana

    Uprooted was already on my to-buy list. I even forgave it that The Dragon is not the actual dragon. I love how this books sounds and the fact that you loved it gives me hope I will too.
    Can’t wait for 19th May!
    *makes grabby hands*
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  3. Danya @ Fine Print

    I love the fact that this was a little on the darker side! I’ve read the first book in Naomi Novik’s adult series and while I really liked it, I thought it was a little too lighthearted at times. The fact that Uprooted also contains history/lore of ancient peoples? Even better! So glad you loved this one, Tabitha. 🙂
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      The magic system isn’t really explained much. You see him trying to teach her and then her struggling her to find her own way to do things. But even tho you aren’t given cut and dry rules for how it works it completely fits smoothly into the story. I didn’t find myself questioning where often in other stories I would want to know. You must read to see what I mean.