Generally the fantasy aisle at the library would be one of the last places I’ll go to lookup a book but this time around some force lead me to this book. Uprooted by Naomi Novik has one of the strangest and unappealing book covers I’ve come across. If you were to judge every book by its cover, I bet it wouldn’t get as many good reads ratings. Back to that force that pushed me to pick up this book and have no peace of mind till I was done with it. I set a personal record for longest time to complete a book with this one….. I still can’t put my finger on why reading this took about a month to complete. The story was magical and enchanting, I found myself chanting spells I could barely pronounce, spells that did silly things and others that could kill an entire army. I understood why some grown people played dress up and acted as though they were back to the medieval/ renaissance times.

At every time in history there were always girls that didn’t quite fit in with the rest, they were overly outspoken, strong willed, lived by their own terms, had to rebel and fight against some injustice done to them or people close to them; we now refer to them as feminists. Agnieszka was all that and more, she lived in a valley called Dvernik ruled by a Dragon (he’s just a wizard) everyone feared, he was fond of taking girls every 10 years and locking them up in his tower to serve him. It was that time of the year again, the Dragon came down from his tower to select the chosen one. His best choice among that age grade was a girl called Kasia. The Dragon was known to take girls who excelled at something; unfortunately for Kasia and her parents she excelled at a lot of things.

Agnieszka and Kasia were friends long before they could remember, Agnieszka had tried so hard to accept her friends’ upcoming captivity by the Dragon but she just couldn’t….running away with Kasia had crossed her mind a few times. It came as a shock to the entire village when Agnieszka was taken by the Dragon instead. Agnieszka who was covered in more dirt than skin when she ran into the woods hunting or just passing time, Agnieszka who loved to climb trees and forage for food, that same Agnieszka. Being under the Dragon’s servitude was more than she’d ever imagined, he wasn’t a terrific master neither was he the worse. He tried to fix her “dirt-situation” and lack of basic housekeeping skills with spells, Agnieszka proved to be his most difficult maiden. While with him, she found out about her powers, though not as refined as the Dragon’s… she too had magical powers.

Surrounding Dvernik and other villages was a wood filled with so much evil not even the crops and fruits from it could be consumed, people disappeared occasionally and were never found, they were said to be taken by the wood. No one could remember a time without the wood. The Dragon’s duty was to ensure the wood didn’t move past its boundaries or cause too much damage to the kingdom of Polnya. It was a task he’d been doing dutifully for hundreds of years. After Kasia gets taken by the wood Agnieszka tries everything in her power to bring her out and restore her to her human state. She fails countless times but never gives up, eventually she uses the Summoning Spell on her and gets a bit of Kasia back. The wood doesn’t stop its attack there, it makes sure that the entire Kingdom is in mayhem. The Royal family gets assassinated, those left aren’t safe either.

The Queen of Polnya has been in the wood longer than anyone else, her son Prince Marek insists on rescuing her although he’s advised against it. The Queen gets rescued and acts unaffected by the wood’s powers but how possible could that be??? She aids the wood’s attack on her family and the entire kingdom. Kasia with the help of the Dragon and other wizards in the kingdom try to destroy the wood and break off its hold on them (hence the title Uprooted).

NY Review of Books |Chronicle Books| Powell's Books

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