Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Book Details
TITLE – Uprooted
AUTHOR – Naomi Novik
GENRE – fantasy, romance, fairy tale retelling
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2015
PAGE COUNT – 438
MY RATING – 4.5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 4.06 of 5
The first days of November brought crispier days and moodier sky where I live. The indoor suddenly became much more inviting, with a warm, cozy atmosphere and smells of something always cooking.
What do you guys like to read during this time?
My Octobers are usually filled with spooky, dark, Halloween-appropriate books. So comes November, I am always in the mood for something much more cozy and whimsical.
And I love this time of year so much. It always makes me wanna curl up next to a window, as the world on the other side quickly changes, and grab a book that can even further put me in a warm, comfortable autumnal mood.
This time, I picked up Uprooted by Naomi Novik. For 3 reasons:
- It involves a magical forest, and is there anything that screams autumn more than that?
- Not only it is supposed to have fairytale vibes, but it is full of motives from Beauty and the Beast – my favorite fairy tale ever!
- I wanted to take a break from the epic part in epic fantasies, but to still get some sort of magical element.
So all in all, it seemed this book had a lot to offer to my current reading mood. Even that cover evoked a lot of autumn vibes. However, I wouldn’t quite call it an obvious pick.
On Goodreads, Uprooted is rated over 4 stars. But, I took a pick of the first page of reviews (the ones that got most likes). And I saw a lot of 5 stars and a lot if 1 stars, and not much else in-between.
The reviews confused me – I had no idea what to expect. To me, Uprooted seamed too innocent a book to evoke such polarizing opinions.
So I got into it a bit hesitant but very, very curious…
What It Is About
Agnieszka’s quiet little life in a picturesque valley is constantly threatened by the corrupted Wood that borders the valley and each year is getting a little closer to completely swallowing it. The only protection the villagers have comes from a powerful wizard called the Dragon. But his price is not an easy one to pay.
Every ten years, the Dragon takes a young girl from the valley to serve him in his tower. And even though after the 10 years he releases them clearly unharmed, no girl wishes to spend a whole decade locked away in the tower with the distant, grumpy, unapologetic wizard.
Agnieszka spent her whole life convinced it is not herself she needs to worry about being taken, but her beautiful, talented friend Kasia. But then the day of the taking came. And it brought more than one surprise…
Uprooted by Naomi Novik – My Review
Well, this was an interesting read. This story took several surprising directions I did not expect at all.
When I picked up this book, I expected a whimsical romance set in a magical forest. But, Uprooted can barely be called a romance. It is more a long, unpredictable magical war intertwined with a bit of angsty romance and a strong female friendship element.
Now I see why some people absolutely loved this, while others had issues with it. Personally, I was more on the love side.
I enjoyed a lot the moody, gloomy descriptions and fairytale feel. The plot, the valley, the corrupted forest, the menacing tower, the names of places and people… It all added to the charm. If you are looking for an atmospheric book perfect for fall, with a bit of romance and a lot of magic to spice it all up – then you’ll enjoy this read quite a bit.
I don’t know if it’s because of all the fairytale references or what, but reading Uprooted almost felt like a reread to me. Somehow familiar and comforting, while still bringing many new details and surprising turns.
I will say, though – this was not quite a gripping read for me, where I just have to see what is going to happen next. This book was a great atmospheric read and I did enjoy it. But I could always put it down even in the middle of an “action” scene and not pick it back up for days.
Which is not necessarily a bad thing. If you know you’ll be busy with work or your kid will interrupt your reading around a thousand times a day – Uprooted might be a great choice to fill those free minutes. Like an oasis of cozy peace in the midst of a chaos :-).
One of my favorite parts was Agnieszka’s character and how well her connection with nature was described. From her clothes always being dirty and torn because branches literally reach to her as she passes by to the way she manages to brush off everything, which to me felt very peaceful and serene.
But then, she also had many impulsive, nobody-knows-what-I’m-doing moments, and that made her feel even more like one-with-the-nature type of girl.
The way she uses magic is very intuitive. And, for the most part, I was OK with the fact that magic in this world doesn’t really have many rules or limitations and that everything was very individual. But at times, it felt a bit too random.
As for the romance – I wouldn’t say this was a very romantic read. Not much flirting or butterflies. But, even though I wish there were a bit more sparks between them, I still had a strong feeling that they could be great together.
The whole time I could feel that they somehow belonged to each other. And I prefer that deep (though not quite explored) connection to clichés and over the top love statements.
Uprooted has that typical enemies to lovers trope and especially in the beginning I got some strong Pride and Prejudice vibes. The Dragon definitely comes off as cold, rude, easily irritated guy, but you can also tell there’s more to him under that grumpy surface.
The way he treated Agnieszka on its own was offensive. But combined with the way she reacted to it – it was kind of adorable. An example of people who are far from perfect, but might be perfect for each other.
This is not a story about two nice, kind people who fall in love with each other. It is a story about two flawed people who still manage to find their own piece of happiness in the crazy world they live in, and how cool is that?
They found not mine or yours, but their happily ever after, and I loved it.
All in all, this book turned out to be exactly what I was in the mood for. And I can even see myself rereading it every fall.
Uprooted is a standalone novel in a sense that the story begins and ends in this one book. However, it is also a part of the series set in this world that at the moment has only one other book – Spinning Silver. And I’ve heard that even people who didn’t like Uprooted loved this second book. So, I am really looking forward to reading it…