Uprooted – 3.5 Star Review

“We’re meant to go. We’re not meant to stay forever.”

-Uprooted, Naomi Novik

I read this book once before, in 2016, when I was just getting back into the swing of reading after having my life completely uprooted (pun intended) by introducing a tiny human to this world. Back in 2016 I rated it three stars with no actual review. Last year I read A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik and really liked it, so I wanted to give this another shot to see if maybe it hits a little differently now that my life has more or less stabilized. I remembered hardly anything about it, a girl that goes to a tower to live with a wizard and an overly wicked set of woods. So, did I feel any differently about it after my re-read? The short answer is: No, not really.

We meet Agnieszka who lives in a small valley-dwelling village that borders the Wood. The Wood seems to be an overtly evil, sentient “being”. A forest of trees that are home to both creatures big and small that would like nothing more than to steal or corrupt you to further it’s murderous agenda. Agnieszka is getting ready for a “festival” of sorts where the local wizard, nicknamed Dragon, comes to the village every 10 years to steal away a girl to keep in his mysterious tower. Much to everyone’s surprise (excluding the reader, I’m sure), our dear Agnieszka gets selected over her much more alluring friend Kasia that the village was banking on. Agnieszka then goes on a journey of discovering what kind of magical powers she possesses and how to wage a battle against the Wood, freeing her village (and others in the land) from the Wood’s grasp with the Dragon’s help.

The first half of this book was great and I think it’s no coincidence that it’s because the Dragon is a key character in this half. Agnieszka learns that the Dragon is not quite who the folklore and songs sung by bards make him out to be. Extremely broody, dipping into rude: yes. Creepy guy in the tower that abuses the women he takes: absolutely not. Dragon is our misunderstood character, our Beast. His character development is an interesting one to see unfold. My problem begins when there is a sudden change of setting. Agnieszka goes to the royal capital of sorts with a host of characters, but any momentum the story has garnered completely bottoms out and never comes back. This is largely in part to the fact that the Dragon remains behind and unseen, unheard for two-thirds of the second half. We meet new characters who are an important vehicle for Agnieszka’s journey to stopping the Wood, but I could not form any kind of liking or attachment to them because this story is on the journey to completion. We finally venture back to our dear Dragon in the last one-third of the ending but at this point, shit starts popping off very fast (the Wood is here, and it is PISSED) so there wasn’t much time for interaction. I ultimately liked how the book ended, it isn’t the “big, tidy bow” ending, but an optimistic one all the same.

I am still pleased I did my re-read. I do believe that stories can hit you differently in your different season of life, but it looks like I turned out to be on the money with this one. No shade to Naomi Novik, I still plan on reading her future books and reading Spinning Silver at some point. Her writing is fun and detailed which I enjoy. This one just missed the mark for me!

-Reviewed by Kelly

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