Book Reviews

Book Review: Uprooted

Uprooted

“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”

TITLE & AUTHOR: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

GENRE: Fantasy/Fairy Tale/YA

PUBLISHED : May 12th 2016 by Pan Macmillan

MY RATING: 4.5/5

 

 

Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. A young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all she values behind.

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she’s everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he takes.

So, here comes a review for a book I’ve read way back last year. Uprooted was one of the last novels I read before I stopped blogging, so it’s been a while, but I owe this novel a review because I loved it *so much*. Uprooted was heartily recommended to me by many bloggers, so I knew this was a good book, but I still wasn’t sure I’ll love it. Hype can be a wicked thing.

As soon as I finished the first chapter, I was hooked! I loved the obvious Slavic influences, the magic, the characters, everything! I especially loved the woods. The whole plot revolves around it, as it’s an evil thing spreading and corrupting everything in its way, humans, animals and plants alike. And once the woods have their hold on you, it’s almost impossible to purge it. Almost.

Agnieszka, our heroine, was quite taken aback when the mysterious Dragon claimed her as his next prize instead of the obvious choice – her best friend Kasia, the most beautiful girl in the village. I was a little pissed that Agnieszka was described as the opposite of “beautiful, graceful and brave”, because I instantly knew she was going to prove to us that this was a bunch of bull, and just as I predicted – she did. This is a quite reoccurring trope with women in fantasy (Literature in general?) in these modern times, and I’ve read it many times. It didn’t ruin the book for me, but it did cost it half a star.

Tropes aside, I loved Agnieszka, and I loved her name, which is something several other reviewers wouldn’t agree with me on. They think it’s unpronounceable, which is quite reasonable to say, except if you’re of Slavic origin. That’s why I was baffled by a fellow Serbian’s review which said: What kind of name is Agnieszka? My brain hurt whenever I read it and tried to pronounce it in my head. Saying it out loud sounded like a got phlegm stuck in my throat.

giphy
Sorry?

Do we speak the same language? Whatever, I don’t usually take a personal vendetta against a fellow blogger, but this is just ridiculous. It’s Agnješka, you’re welcome.

Anyhow, I did like Agnieszka the most, but I also loved Kasia and…Dragon? I don’t want to spoil anything, but this character is if not positive, then at least chaotic neutral? I don’t know, I did like him, but you can’t really love him. Now the problem I had with him is that he’s sort of sassy-evil and rude quite often, and lacks patience. Tons of it. So I kinda instantly imagined him as Benedict Cumberbatch, particularly his Sherlock character. Only without a nose, like Voldemort. And this wouldn’t be an issue at all, but at one point he became romantically involved with someone (Not a huge surprise.), and I can’t imagine Sherlock smooching with someone, soo this is I guess my problem? It is, I have issues.

“He wasn’t a person, he was a lord and a wizard, a strange creature on another plane entirely, as far removed as storms and pestilence.”

Besides the characters, I loved everything. The scenery is beautiful and gorgeously described, the writing is top-notch if you ask me, and besides the tiny trope I mentioned, this is FAR from a typical YA female-centered fantasy. In fact, I’d rather classify it as adult, not because there’s too much erotica and/or gore – there isn’t – but because it just feels more mature than the other bunch of stuff I’ve read over the years.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot because it’s best left to discover on one’s own, but I will say how much I love that the villain here is the woods. It has no clear motive, no cliché lines (No lines at all lol.), it’s just there, and it spreads. It’s an evil magic which takes, twists and corrupts, it turns everything it touches into its blind minion of destruction. I love it.

giphyghg
If the Wood were a human.

“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”

Footer 4.5

 

Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik  is an American writer of speculative fiction. She wrote the Temeraire fantasy/alternate history series of nine novels. Her first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, won the 2007 Compton Crook Award for best first novel in the science fiction and fantasy category. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2007, was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2007, 2016, and 2019, and won both the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 2016 for Uprooted.

 

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Uprooted

  1. I enjoyed this book so much! I think that the woods being the villain here (a trope I love) is what I enjoyed so much about it – you can’t really say that the woods are inherently evil, so I found the themes more mature/complex than usual.

    Oh, I totally agree about the Dragon. It’s weird because he might be interpreted as being abusive by some, but the author found a good balance where you can just be neutral with him, and I personally came to like him more and more as the book went on.

    Btw I didn’t find Agnieszka’s name hard to pronounce, and I’m not Serbian. 😂 Maybe I’m saying it wrong in my head, but for what it counts, it didn’t hinder my reading in the least!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! 😀 Is that a trope? Then I love it too haha. 😀 Definitely, as much as humans are complex, I see a lot of human villains written so bland and shallow, whereas the canvas for a villain in Uprooted was so much smaller, and look what Novik did with it. 🙂

      Haha, glad I’m not the only one! I did like him more too, as the book went on, but I just couldn’t shake Cumberbatch out of the image hahah.

      Well maybe you are saying it wrong, I don’t know – I did the same thing with Inej from Six of Crows for a while, because of our alphabet, but for a Serbian to have such problem with it would be like you having an immense problem with an English name like Charlotte or something like it. 😀

      Like

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