Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey, May 19th, 2015) – Those who live near The Wood are careful and cautious. People go in, and they never come out. Creatures, however – they come out. And when they do, it is the stuff of nightmares. The Wood appears to have only two goals – to harm humans, and to grow. The only thing saving Agnieszka’s village from The Wood is The Dragon. And while this Dragon may actually be human instead of a giant lizard, he is still a wizard. A wizard who takes girls from the village – one girl every 10 years. No one knows why, or what he does with them. They all swear that he never lays a hand on them – but when he’s done with them and allows them to leave, often with a purse of silver, they leave and never come back. Now it is time again – time for the Dragon to pick another village girl to take to his tower. Everyone knows who he will pick, and they have been preparing. It turns out, however, that what everyone thinks they know is quite often wrong. The Dragon doesn’t care – but The Wood does. It is watching and waiting, and when the time is right, it will act.
The initial blurb about the book makes it seem like The Dragon is the main focus of the book, but as the story goes along, it becomes quite clear that he is not. Yes, he is a main character along with Agnieszka, but if ever a place could be a character, then The Wood is one. It has motivation, it thinks and plans, and it believes in revenge. The Wood is the main motivation for the entire story, and what a wonderful story it is.
I will say that I had a little bit of trouble getting into it at first, to the point that I hesitated to jump back into the story when I had put it aside for a few days. I convinced myself to try, just one more time, and I’m so glad I did. Once the story picked up and The Wood became so much more than a bystander, I had a hard time putting the book down. The Dragon and Agnieszka are fairly well-written as characters, and they come into their own as the story progresses. However, The Wood feels the most like a living, breathing, *morphing* creature – one with evil intent and the patience man lacks to watch its plans come to fruition.
In Uprooted, Naomi Novik has created a world where magic flows freely and can be used to both harm and to heal. The fact that she created not one, but two different magic types for the story is impressive, and they are woven together to wonderful effect. Uprooted is one of those wonderful stories that easily stands alone, with a conclusion that couldn’t have been done any better. I truly enjoyed reading it, and can see myself buying a hard copy of the book to enjoy over and over again.