“Here. You’ll like this,” he said, practically shoving the book into my hands. It was by Naomi Novik, an author I wasn’t familiar with and it felt a little strange to be holding a book I hadn’t known was coming out. While a majority of the books I review on here these days have to do with Star Wars, I occasionally peruse the coming soon lists of other areas of interest too. I’m used to knowing author names, what else they wrote, and what the story was generally going to be about.
But holding Uprooted, I had no clue. I was tempted to ask why he thought it’d be a good fit for me, but I held my tongue. This was a chance to go into a book fresh and I was going to take it.
I quickly learned the story is told from the perspective of a 17-year-old girl named Agnieszka, who lives in a valley near a dangerous wood. Once every ten years the local wizard arrives to choose a girl who will serve in his tower for the next ten years and in turn he protects the villagers from the wood. Everyone is sure the next to be chosen will be Agnieszka’s best friend Kasia, who is practically perfect in every way. But events don’t proceed as everyone expects.
The rest of the plot, I will leave for you to discover when you read this book–because I highly encourage you to read this book. Naomi Novik took the stories she heard in her own childhood and used them as a jumping off point to create this narrative that feels like an old folk tale you’ve somehow never heard while still coming off modern. Her characters all feel like real human beings who live in a world that isn’t constrained by all the practicalities of ours. And there’s enough detail to make sure you understand as well as to populate this land without ever bogging a reader down.
First person narration can be tricky, but Novik takes it in stride with Agnieszka, who knows so much and yet is having her eyes opened to things she never understood before. Her relationships are layered and many of the characters she interacts with have great depth. What’s more Agnieszka is not the only complex female character you’ll find in Uprooted. Every page left me wondering where it would go next and I happily devoted hours upon hours to reading through it.
Uprooted is a wonderful and accessible example of a heroine’s journey. If I had a copy to shove into your hands, I would. But I’m going to be holding on to mine. Uprooted is out now wherever books are sold.
Note: This book does contain some violence and brief sexual content.
A review copy of this book was provided by Del Rey. Thank you, Tom. You were right.
Kay grew up wanting to be an astronaut. After seeing Star Wars, she wanted to be Princess Leia, Han Solo, and an astronaut. A voice actor, photographer, and artist who also consults in communications and marketing, Kay spends the little bit of free time she has reading, reviewing, and, of course, making pew pew noises. She would pick up more jobs, hobbies, and fitness routines if she was a Time Lord. You can follow her on Twitter.
Kay reviews Star Wars books for FANgirl in addition to movies of several genres with a heart for storytelling and a mind that likes to analyze. She also writes about fandom reflections and fashion as well as co-hosts the Hyperspace Theories podcast. She has been known to make appearances on other podcasts including Fangirl Chat, Nerd Lunch, Disney Vault Talk's Rebel Yell, and Assembly of Geeks.
Currently a voice actor, photographer, and artist who also consults in communications and marketing, Kay spends the little bit of free time she has reading, writing, learning and, of course, making pew pew noises. She would pick up more jobs and hobbies if she was a Time Lord.