Wizards and Woodsfolk and Magic, Oh My!
So, I loved this book. And I’m a little late in producing this ARC review, as Uprooted did just come out last month, but since I do have the eARC lying around, and I am totally gung-ho about recommending this book, this is going up regardless.
provided by Netgalley
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.
Shameless self-confession: I did not love the first book of Novik’s Temeraire series (His Majesty’s Dragon). Because of this, I actually never bothered to read the rest of the series, though it spanning 8, 9 books pretty much means a lot of people love it. I love dragons just as much as the next dragon fan, but I never took to Temeraire, and I certainly didn’t have much attachment to Laurence. I did like the storytelling, though, and I certainly had no problem with the action sequences when Novik got to them.
Fast forward years later, and I read a short story by Novik in the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology: “Purity Test.” Loved, loved, loved it.
Fast forward to my seeing an ARC of Uprooted on Netgalley, and after reading the summary, I knew I just had to have it. I mean, come on. Slavic fairy tale inspiration? Yes please! And that first paragraph? Piqued my interest already! And oh! A standalone?! FINALLY.
What comes off surprisingly well about this fantasy book is that it is dark, ethereal, and romantic, and makes no excuse to be dark and ethereal and romantic. Everything about the Wood is creepy, not gonna lie, and often I found myself sucked into the description of it and having to stop because nightmares. I’ve always been wary of forests, but the Wood takes the cake in all things frightful, and you couldn’t catch me dead living nearby.
And did I mention that a lot of the book is inspired by Slavic (mostly Polish) folk tales? I mean, Baba Jaga as being an unprecedented witch of the past? YES. A Dragon (who’s actually a wizard) who takes tribute of virgin seventeen-year-olds in exchange for keeping the villages safe from the Wood? Damn, there has to be something more there! Honestly, the first chapter established the backdrop and the characters so well that it was hard not to love the world as created.
As for the romance…well HELLO THERE. I was initially surprised at how steamy things got the first time around. By the time I hit the second time around, I pretty much had to fan myself, because it was sexy and hot and GLORIOUS. Uprooted is NOT a fairy tale fantasy for children. It does NOT shy away from violence and sexual content. Novik was tasteful in her portrayals of both, and I’ve got to say I couldn’t have found the character pairing any more perfect than I already do (though to be honest, I found Sarkan much too grumpy for my taste, lol).
That all said…Agnieszka is. Frelling. FABULOUS. As a main character, she definitely gets added to my list of Females Who Kick Ass In Their Own Way. Nieshka (I’m using Kasia’s nickname for her) is feisty. While the beginning chapters showed her as a timid girl–mostly out of shock and fear, I’m sure–she eventually finds her way around the Dragon’s tower and even goes toe-to-toe with the silly wizard himself. I pretty much littered my eARC with short notes about how much I love Nieshka and her indomitable focus, and how much she made me laugh in certain scenes. Also, the way she views magic is superb, and it’s no wonder Sarkan finds himself drawn to her (even though he probably cringes every time she organizes her books in color order XD).
So yes. Really loved this book. Really blessed to have had the eARC, because it totally sped up the process of me reading the book. Really going to get myself a hard copy of the book at some point. And, surprisingly, I find myself thinking about maybe giving the Temeraire series one more chance!
5 out of 5 cookies!