[Review] Uprooted – Naomi Novik – english

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

„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—everyoneknows—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.”

The story begins in the year of the election and everyone, but the reader, expect Kasia to be the chosen one. But when the Dragon (who isn’t a dragon on that note but a “normal” magician) took Angieszka instead, thousand questions explode in her head. Why her and not Kasia? How will she survive the coming ten years? Why does one of the most powerful magicians  need a simple girl like her? And she comes to realize, that there is maybe more than she thought, that things are more complicated than the people in her village could ever imagine..

For me this book was nearly perfect! I love the setting and the characters. The story takes place in a fictional east Europe with mythologic elements like Baba Jaga for example.
The whole book is a dark fantasy novel with a Brothers Grimm feeling in some parts and I think it’s really well written. I’ve read it in German and I think the translation wasn’t on point the whole time, but all in all I think Naomi Novik’s style of writing is perfect for a standalone fantasy novel! She has the ability to put many information in a few sentences, so a big story like this can fit into nearly 500 pages (577 in german).

The protagonist Agnieszka narrates the story from her perspective and because of that, you can totally understand her decisions and behavior! Her clumsiness made me smile more than once. I think she’s a super strong woman with a biiiiig character development but at some points she was kind of the predictable hero type, which is the only bigger flaw I found in this novel.
AND that there is no map! Why would you write a fantasy world and don’t design a map for it?!

Uprooted is a dark fairy tale like novel for, in my opinion, older teens or young adults. There are some pretty dark scenes and the story is super complex and could be a bit confusing for younger ones. Also I think for some people the beginning could be a bit slow, but I guess that’s pretty normal for high fantasy because the author has to introduce the readers in a completely new world from scratch! Also it’s super refreshing to have a standalone fantasynovel and not a new series with 823846748 following books.
I really, really like this book and I will definitely re-read it in a few years!

German Edition | Das Dunkle Herz Des Waldes | Naomi Novik | Hardcover | 571 pages | cbj | 17,99€

Click here to buy the german edition

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