Thursday, 10 January 2019

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Publication Date: May 12th 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 435

A dark enchantment blights the land
Agnieszka loves her village, set 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 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 is everything Agnieszka is not - beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he takes.

I tried, a long time ago, to read a Naomi Novik book and really struggled and ended up giving up after a couple of chapters. However this book was pressed into my hands with the order to read it, so I felt I really needed to give her another chance.

I went into this thinking it was going to be one story (see the blurb) and it starts off looking like it will be. But then it changes. Ok, fair, not quite what I was expecting, but I'm still enjoying it. Then it changes again. And again. Honestly by the end I had no idea what kind of book I was reading, but I was loving it so I really didn't care.

It's a book that refuses to conform to one mould, and I adored that about it, even as I found it confusing keeping up. There was magic, and friendship and love of all different kinds, and creepy myths and legends and woods that come alive, and politics and intrigue and all of the things and I adored it.

I loved that it refused to be one thing. I loved that it refused to just be a pretty romance between teacher and student. I loved how it explored so many difficult facets of the relationship between Agnieszka and Kasia. I loved that Agnieszka was not your typical heroine and she was messy and wonderful and weird and bad ass. I love that Kasia turned all the expectations of her on their head. I loved how much Sarkan was grumpy and irritated and confused when the world did not go the way he expected it to.

Are you sensing a theme here?

Basically this standalone was one of those rare and perfect creatures that you can't quite pin down, but absolutely sweeps you away with its dark and wonderful story.

It's a great introduction to Novik's writing, and I'm now really excited to read more of her work.

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