Review of UPROOTED by NAOMI NOVIK
Agnieszka lives in a small valley where every ten years a terrible mage known as the Dragon takes one young girl to serve him. In return he keeps the awful Wood’s dark magic from overrunning the village. This novel feels both fresh and modern as well as a familiar fairy tale classic.
Everyone anticipated that the Dragon would take Agnieszka’s friend, Kasia. She’s the Dragon’s type: gorgeous, intelligent, talented in so many ways. Of course, he doesn’t take Kasia; he takes Agnieszka.
I will confess that I liked a lot of what this story does conceptually with common tropes more than I found myself engrossed in the plot of the book. That disclaimer aside, I loved the friendship dynamic between Kasia and Agnieszka. In almost any other book, they would be frenemies. Or Kasia would have a painful fall from her place of reverence. In UPROOTED, however, Agnieszka does not give in to the temptations of jealousy, nor does Kasia take on an expected holier than thou air. The two girls are loyal, steadfast friends who respect one another and cherish each other’s gifts.
The relationship dynamic between the Dragon and Agnieszka also sidesteps typical roles in a story such as this, though their relationship isn’t explored and unpacked quite as much as I wanted.
I loved the suspenseful Wood plotline, but found myself confused and lost in some of the twists and turns and action scenes. I suspect more is revealed about the inner workings of this mysterious force than I followed.
With fairy tale elements and a feminist heroine, UPROOTED is definitely a modern classic.