Uprooted is a rather beautiful fantasy novel which I picked up with some Amazon credit. I’ve seen it mentioned a few times in various places and the cover was just too beautiful to turn down.
To summarise this book, we follow our young protagonist – Agnieszka – who at the start of this novel is taken by a wizard known only as the Dragon. There is a Wood, which is possessed with darkness which infects the people of the surrounding villages and the Dragon takes a girl every 11 years or something and protects the people in the valley from the corruption of the Wood. It reminded me very much of Beauty and the Beast, I think that’s really the best way to describe this book without giving anything away.
It read very much like a YA novel, a 17/18 year old girl as a first person narrator and it’s very fairy tale – it is a combination of Beauty and the Beast and Polish folklore with a bit of the story of Baba Yaga thrown in! It read beautifully, it was very flowery and gentle however it became a bit more sloppy in the second half and even though I was happy with how it ended, there were some big problems for me towards the 300-page mark.
The characters introduced in the first half were awesome. Agnieszka is one of the most relatable protagonists I’ve read in a long time, she’s clumsy and awkward but she develops and her confidence builds over the course of the novel and I just clicked with her. The friendship with Kasia was one of the most authentic friendships I had read. Even the Dragon was somewhat endearing and over the progression of the novel he developed too. Some of the side characters were great too, Alosha particularly I wish we had more on. The problem is that characters introduced towards the half way point or further are just thrown in, they receive very little time or words and there were times where I felt a little confused because I didn’t feel that they had the same depth of character to those introduced in the first half – they felt rushed, haphazard and just there. I felt the plot had the same problems in the third quarter of the book – the final 70 or so pages were beautiful but there was a middle section which I feel could have been either elaborated on or cut out entirely. Oddly, the romance in this book wasn’t something I was opposed to but it did, at times, feel forced.
So, this book was good. It has me wanting to read more fantasy, which is never a bad thing. It is most assuredly not a YA novel; there is sex in it, and also an attempted sexual assault at one point, which actually surprised me because I did feel it was a YA novel until those points occurred! I would definitely give Novik another go in the future because her writing is beautiful but, while this novel did have some really exceptional points it was just good. It wasn’t exceptional. So it’s a 3/5.