Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Publisher: Del Rey
Uprooted has been entitles the Grimm fairy tale of this century. And don’t confuse that with the Disney fairy tales that we are all so aware of. No, this is a darker, more intense tale. In a world where the corrupted Wood lays its shadow over all villages nearby, Agnieszka loves her village and the valley it lays in anyway. The Wood is kept at bay by the Dragon, an ancient wizard living in the Tower. All by himself, with just one young woman to serve him. This woman is picked from one of the villages and is expected to serve him for ten years. The next choosing is approaching and Agnieszka is afraid. Not for herself, but for the beautiful Kasia, her best friend, whom everyone knows will be chosen. But when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose…
Used to the softer Disney tales, I had to look up what the exact definition of a fairy tale is. According to Wikipedia:
A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features European folkloric fantasy characters, such as dwarves, elves, fairies, giants, gnomes, goblins, mermaids, trolls, or witches and usually magic and enchantments.
European folklore, check! Witches, check! Magic, check! Enchantments, check! While the definition of fairy tales is generally quite the source of dispute, according to this definition, Uprooted definitely makes it to the list. The story was just so much darker, that I initially would not have called it a fairy tale. But then Wikipedia reminded me that fairy tales originally were intended for an adult audience and that the association with children only came later.
Naomi Novik did an exceptionally great job with this book. I would give it six stars if possible, it is the best book I’ve read in a long time. The story is incredibly action-packed and feels like reading three books instead of one. Halfway I was like, if the book would end now that would be a complete and satisfying story. But then I still had the other half of this lovely book to go!
The protagonist, Agnieszka, is this lovable young girl. I felt an instant connection and wished her all the best. She is always trying to help everyone, even when that means endangering herself. Her relationship with the Dragon is beautifully portrayed and feels as awkward reading about as Novik probably intended.
With my highest recommendation, I declare this book a must-read for anyway even remotely interested in the genre. And as the book cover is also fabulous, it would definitely a jewel in anyone’s living room.
Final rating: ★★★★★
*** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review ***