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… (Blurb taken from Goodreads)
How to describe this wonderful jewel of a book? It is filled with singing charms and slowly kindled love and cruel enemies and ignorant princes and unexpected villains. Magic seeps through the pages and after you finish it, you can feel the words of a spell on your tongue. Yes, it’s that good.
The overall plot and the story share some similarities with Howl’s Moving Castle written by Diana Wynne Jones because we have a strong but distant wizard living in a tower/castle and a young girl, unaware of her magical potential, who joins him on his quest to save the kingdom from evil forces. Also, like Howl, Dragon is a grumpy, self-centered, solitary man who enjoys fine clothing and cannot admit when he is wrong. But the similarities end her and Uprooted takes you on a whole new level.
Can I just say how completely brilliant it is that the forest (yes, you heard right), the forest is the villain. I mean who comes up with that? I love walking through forests but this book gave me the creeps (I am now terrified of stick insects) and everytime I see the nearby forest, I immediately wonder if there are some strange creatures lurking around it. Also, the whole magical elements of this book are spectacular. It really makes you feel like you could be a witch/wizard just by singing songs and letting magic slip through the lines.
The romance! Oh, how I loved the slowly burning romance. Dragon was such a fun character, he was grumpy and obnoxious but also sweet and endearing. I loved the fact that the story didn’t concentrate on the romance part but it was still present. And how amazing was the friendship between Kasia and Agnieszka? When Agnieszka put herself on Kasia’s side instead of the Dragon’s, I thought to myself, yes, finally, friends are what’s important!
Agnieszka was such a wonderful lead character, she wasn’t perfect and pretty and helpless, no, she was really brave and she didn’t care what others thought of her and she was strong on her own. She didn’t just wait around for Dragon to help her, no, she went to the forest herself (yes, he did help her afterwards, but still, she fights like a lion on her own). Despite all the troubles she faced, she pushed through and fought for her home. And it is so refreshing to have the lead protagonsit clumsy and messy and not always beautiful like in most YA novels.
My favourite part of the book was the magic and the writing. The book reads like a mixture of a dark twisted fairy tale and a spell book and the two combined makes for an excellent reading experience. Also, even though I would love to read more about Agnieszka and Dragon, I’m glad this isn’t a series because I’m sort of getting tired of them because the quality of the books usually declines within a series.
The only thing I didn’t like was how little we know about Dragon. I want to know so much more about his life, his childhood, the previous girls that stayed with him and why he became so grumpy, because we don’t get to see who he is behind that mask of his. Other than that, this book became my all-time favourite after reading the first hundred or so pages.
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.
Naomi Novik, Uprooted