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. One young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all they value 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.
I came to this book in want of a fairytale and in want of an escape. In a dreary winter of a year of horror and tragedy, sometimes we need a little magic in our lives to keep us going.
Uprooted is as enchanting and fantastical as I hoped, full of the raw magic of the Eastern European folk tales it is based on. I loved Agnieszka as a heroine – she is strong, practical and fearless, and in that age-old trope, also clumsy and somewhat of an outcast in her rural village. Her relationship with the mysterious and enigmatic Dragon is as charged and fraught as you could hope for in a will-they-won’t-they-is-this-slightly-inappropriate(?) romance. I much preferred her friendship and relationship with best friend Kasia though – we certainly need that kind of female loyalty and empowerment in literature more often.
At some times a little predictable (in a comfortable way, of course!), Uprooted also surprised me by going to places I did not expect. There’s an edge to Novik’s writing and the feeling that this is a little more than just a simple fairy story. It’s enchanting, but it’s also engaging, and Novik’s style is as capturing as it is thought-provoking.
Although I think a little overlong in the end, Uprooted contains enough magic, monsters and heroines to keep me happy and satisfy my thirst for a bit of fantasy. The perfect wintery literary escape.