This week my wife and I have been away on vacation but one of our friends has stepped up and provided a guest book review for us! She also happened to review a book that I am very much interested in reading, and her review has made me even more interested than before!
One part Jane Eyre, one part Harry Potter, one part fairy tale, all parts fun. Despite suspicions that Uprooted would be just another young adult fiction fluff text, I found myself greatly enjoying Naomi Novik’s newest foray into the forest of words.
Agnieszka is an accident-prone young girl who has grown up on the edge of a forest in which lurks more dangers than just bears or snakes. And if the dangers of the forest aren’t enough, there’s the every-ten-year selection of a young girl by the local official, Dragon. When Agnieszka is unexpectedly chosen by Dragon, her life changes over night. Her selection rips her away from all she knows and deposits her into a world of magic and spells where she must discover her own talents and gifts.
From there, Uprooted moves with break-neck speed between events, and the reader is pulled along for a fun ride as Agnieszka learns about magic and how to defend her town and country from an encroaching power. Along the way, she unwillingly falls in love with her mysterious and cold mentor. The quick pacing and action packed scenes move smoothly through the plot points, and I found myself compelled to keep turning pages into the wee hours of the night.
I did think of this as a gothic romance with magic. Agnieszka is a heroine as awkward as any Jane Eyre, and Dragon is a love interest with a darkness and prickliness equal to any Rochester or Heathcliff. Combine the gothic feel with a dash of Harry Potter-like magic in a world ruled by age-old stories of nature, and the story comes alive in an entirely entertaining fashion. While none of the characters carries extreme depth, they are still interesting enough for a reader to follow.
Perhaps the biggest “flaws” I found were the heavy-handed environmental statement at the story’s climax and the sometimes over-used first person narrative. The former is mitigated by the logic of its origins within the story itself, and the latter can be overlooked for the sheer fun of the story.
Overall, I found myself truly “uprooted” from my own reality and transplanted into an ancient world of spells, magic, and arcane wonders. I would strongly recommend this book for a fun, fiction break from heavier, academic texts.