I haven’t read much fantasy, but a friend gave it rave reviews so I tried this one and ended up loving it. Uprooted was such a satisfying thrill of a read. I don’t want to go into much detail about the plot because it’ll ruin the twists and turns, but here’s the basic premise.
The world of Uprooted is based on an ancient fictional Poland and is vaguely reminiscent of old Eastern European fairy tales (including the famous Baba Yaga). There are several villages in a valley that border a the frightening corrupted Wood. People who go into the Wood usually don’t come back and when they do, they’re changed and possessed by something evil. Every once in a while, the Wood tried to advance and engulf the border villages. With such a menacing presence continuously threatening them, the villagers are so grateful to the Dragon (the local wizard) for keeping them safe that they almost don’t mind letting the Dragon take a village girl every ten years. After all, it’s not like they never come back. The women return unharmed but changed. They’re all well-dressed, educated, but no longer connected the villages and quickly leave for larger cities. Agnieszka and Kasia are best friends destined for separation. Everyone (except the reader) knows it will be beautiful, perfect Kasia chosen by the Dragon and are shocked when he picks Agnieszka.
Novik is a very talented writer. She excels at characterization, world-building, and plotting. These are real characters with talents, flaws, and believable motivations. Their relationships with each other are fascinating and compelling, especially the main friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia. That friendship is the true heart of this story.
The ending was very satisfying, but I really hope there will be a sequel because this world is such a cool place to inhabit. The freaky Wood is horrifying and a great antagonist. I also really appreciated the various kinds of magic in Uprooted. The magic is as diverse as the witches and wizards and I always appreciate it when magic sounds like real work.
The plot was incredibly fun and kept me guessing. I can usually tell where a book is heading, but every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, the plot took a turn down a new compelling road. I literally couldn’t put this book down and stayed up til the wee hours of the morning finishing it.