Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik


Uprooted by Naomi Novik // VBC ReviewUprooted
Naomi Novik
Published: May 19, 2015 (Del Rey)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Our Dragon doesnt eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.

Every ten years the Dragon—really he’s a wizard, not a literal dragon—chooses a girl from the valley and in exchange he offers the people of the valley his protection against the Wood and its evils. No one knows what he does with the girls (they all swear he never lays a hand on them), but when they come back after their time with him, they are invariably changed, and are unable to return to the lives they previously left.

The girls are age seventeen when they’re taken, and Agnieszka (Nieshka) happens to be in that group of girls. She doesn’t worry about being chosen, however, everyone knows her best friend Kasia will be the one. The Dragon always takes the most special girl, and Kasia fits that description to a T. She’s been groomed all her life to take the place as the next girl, as much as it pains her parents. But on the day of the offering, the Dragon doesn’t choose Kasia but Nieshka.

Nieshka takes her choosing in stride. Part of her is glad she’s been chosen instead of her friend. She can put up with the surly Dragon. What Nieshka comes to find out, and the reason she was chosen, is there is magic within her. The Dragon would be remiss to let that power go untrained. So they set upon an unsteady relationship to hone her natural talents. Turns out, it’s just the right time too, because the sentient Wood that the Dragon protects the people from is ready to wage an assault against any who dare enter its boundaries and even those beyond the boundaries. They will need everyone’s help in weeding out the corruption.

Naomi Novik has certainly created a very beautiful world here, even with all its dangers and evils, it was just so interesting. I absolutely loved Nieshka’s character. She’s not the most elegant or refined, but she doesn’t apologize for that. Even upon learning of her magic she remains herself and follows her heart even when it puts her at odds with the Dragon on multiple occasions. I loved the organic feel of her magic; so clearly something inside of her and not something that she could be taught, the way it manifests is so rich and simple (although her powers are anything but simple).

For all that the Dragon is a gruff character with an extremely dry wit, I really liked him. It took me a bit to be able to understand his sarcasm, but once I did I really want to go back and re-read the whole book with my new understanding of him in my head. If read in that way, the exchanges between him and Nieshka border on hilarious. His clear frustration with her regarding the fact that he couldn’t teach her magic in the way he knew it was priceless.

While the story weaves itself together at a quick pace, and our characters are certainly kept on their toes throughout the majority due to the evil Wood, by the end I did find myself ready for it to wrap up. I felt like we went through the back-and-forth action/contemplation song-and-dance enough I was ready and willing for the ending to come. When it did, I was left very satisfied and happy. For me, Uprooted definitely lives up to the hype.

Sexual content: sex

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