Author: Naomi Novik
Provided Synopsis: “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
Review: Laced within Uprooted is something akin to a nostalgic blanket I was able to wrap around myself. By this I mean the story felt warm, and familiar, and like something I could easily envision being passed down from generation to generation: in essence, it captured the magic of a fairy tale.
From the very first page this book had my attention, as it introduced the world and the circumstances surrounding the sacrifice to the Dragon, and the threat of the Wood. Despite years of believing it will be her best friend who is chosen by the Dragon, it is Agnieszka who is taken to his tower and who becomes involved in the fight against corruption and the Wood. I believe the synopsis leaves things vague on purpose so you can go on the journey with these characters, so I will do the same.
Where this book failed me, however, and why I have given it four stars rather than five, is the middle section when the setting moves from the valley and the shadow of the Wood to the capital kingdom and the court. It was here that things felt as if they began to drag, and I began to rush through the words rather than savor the tale as I had done before. The ending, thankfully, led the story back to the same tone as the beginning, as I began to ease back into the tale and the struggle along with these characters. I feel immensely satisfied with the ending, and even left wishing there was a little more. If you are in the search of a read that feels like a story that has been passed down and is filled with the type of fantasy and magical elements, and in the end: a lesson, that could be told to you as a young child, in a village in the shadow of the woods, then I would recommend this wholeheartedly.