“If you don't want a man dead, don't bludgeon him over the head repeatedly.”
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.
I went into Uprooted with mixed feelings - retellings, if done right, have the potential to become my favorite novels ever - Cruel Beauty, The Lunar Chronicles, just to mention a few that deserve to be on my best of the best shelf. I believe, there’s something truly magical about our childhood favorites being retold in new and unexpected ways. Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite Disney movie, and so its retellings tend to be my favorite ones... as well as my most feared ones simply because - due to my huge expectations - they have the potential to disappoint me all the more.
While Uprooted's average rating currently stands on 4.15, the book received some pretty mixed reviews that made me question if this was for me.
As soon as I started Uprooted I was in love with everything - from the writing, through the story, to the characters. Upon finishing the novel, I was left with a huge-ass grin on my face, because this is what I call a fantastic retelling. Naomi Novik didn't keep much from Beauty and the Beast, just the very basics, but I didn't mind that, because instead she used elements that usually appear in fairy tales, such as the Wood, this huge-ass, creepy and mysterious forest.
Speaking of the Wood - finally a book that promises to be spooky, and delivers. Reading about the Wood and what happened to those who were corrupted gave me the chills, but also amazed me a lot, because Novik's descriptions were SO GOOD, as was the rest of the world-building.
The characters were all intriguing creatures, with Agnieszka taking the crown as my favorite, because she was seriously kickass. She wasn't about to wait for someone else to rescue her, instead she fought and fought, doing her best to succeed in every single dire situation she was put in. That said, she was no way 'perfect', just like none of us are. She wasn't above crying herself to sleep, or admitting that she was absolutely terrified of the Dragon at first.
“I don't want more sense!" I said loudly, beating against the silence of the room. "Not if sense means I'll stop loving anyone. What is there besides people that's worth holding on to?”
“I'm glad," I said, with an effort, refusing to let my mouth close up with jealousy. It wasn't that I wanted a husband and a baby; I didn't, or rather, I only wanted them the way I wanted to live to a hundred someday, far off, never thinking about the particulars. But they meant life: she was living, and I wasn't.”
I could talk about Uprooted for ages, but I really, really, REALLY want you all to find out for yourselves why this was one of the most gorgeous books I've ever read.
The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 5/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 5/5
Enjoy factor: 5/5