I had a mini breakdown halfway through this book because I was intrigued by what had happened, scared of what was going to happen next, and terrified of all of my emotions being all screwed up after finishing the entire book. I’m happy to say that Uprooted is more simple than it seems with all its fantasy and magic and princes, and although it did get all my feelings twisted into knots, it had the perfect ending that brought everything together. Cheers to all books that take pity on the readers’ feelings! 🍸
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.
A fairy tale retelling, right? WRONG. Well, kind of. A few pages in, and I’m already certain what’s going to happen: this man-dragon captures young girls, but when he takes Agnieszka, she’s going to make him fall in love with her and she’ll save the world; OR, a prince is going to come and save her and they’ll live happily ever after. (Sorry, I’ve read too many princess-and-dragon tropes…) But Uprooted follows neither, and instead paves its own path of magic and evil and destruction. There is a prince. There is romance. (The romance is strong in quality and not quantity, and it’s explicit. That’s part of the reason why I think this is really an adult fiction novel, and not a young adult novel.) There is a happily ever after (somewhere in this world). But it’s not as I expected. I applaud Novik’s ability to change a classic Polish fairy tale (which I haven’t read, by the way) into a beast of its own.
I almost DNFed half way through because of feelings. There comes a point, in some books, at which I’m scared to read past… not because of boredom, but because I know that the book will slay me. It’s like I need to take a break or a deep breath before walking into the unknown. After Part I of Uprooted, there have been tragedies and upheavals, and so much gore and unpleasant things. I put the book down for a day, hesitated the day after that, and finally picked it back up again to finish reading it. Still a lot of strong feelings being evoked while I was reading Part II, but there IS light at the end of the tunnel, however dim it may seem now!
Despite Agnieszka’s weaknesses, I’ve been Team Agnieszka since day one. She’s clumsy, she’s stubborn, she’s soft-hearted, and she does everything wrong. But Agnieszka’s faults grow endearing because of how they make her stand out amongst everyone else who is completely opposite of her. When others take advantage of her soft-heartedness, I seethe; when she is too dressed up or too dressed down for a social event, I’m amused. 💁 Aside from Agnieszka, there are numerous memorable characters that are each unique in personality and appearance.
Uprooted is reminiscent of darker fairy tales of times past, such as Grimm’s fairy tales, where the heroines don’t succeed all the way and not everything ends in happily ever after. I was actually reminded of Lois Lowry’s The Giver Quartet because they both have woods that host Evil, although Uprooted paints a clearer, more vivid image of the beings that roam the woods. Overall, a wonderful, gripping fantasy! (But note to younger readers, there is a sex scene!)
Have you read Uprooted?
How do you feel about darker, more sinister fairy tales?