I finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik and promptly burst into tears. This novel grew inside me as I read, vines snaking around my heart. I am always delighted when I find a book so utterly enthralling; I was completely enamored. Novik is a splendid writer. The language of the book is lovely and musical, yet straightforward and at times beautifully blunt, in much the same way Agnieszka, our heroine, and her thoughts can be. The characters leap off the page. I fell deeply in love with Agnieszka and the Dragon and Kasia and this whole wonderful world that Novik has built. I very much enjoyed following their growth and development in the face of increasingly urgent dangers. This book is a fantasy that feels both rooted in its history and also entirely new. Its magic is innovative and breathtaking. The story feels familiar, like a fairy tale, but also original and wholly captivating. The whole time it felt like I was walking with an old friend, a very, very engaging old friend.
The story itself is about Agnieszka, a girl who has grown up in the shadow of the corrupted Wood, kept only at bay by their liege lord, the Dragon. Every ten years, the Dragon chooses a girl to come to his tower and serve him. Everyone in the village, including Agnieszka, thinks her best friend Kasia will be chosen. But that’s not exactly the way it goes. The choosing is the beginning of a tale of magic and growth and home and life that is heartbreaking and beautiful and terrible and wonderful. Uprooted is an utterly transporting tale that I cannot recommend enough.