Uprooted, Naomi Novik
Published May 19th 2015 by Del Ray Spectra
Hardcover, 448 pages
Source: e-ARC from NetGalley
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
Oh Agnieszka. The Dragon. The mother-effing WOOD. I can’t think of any other book I’ve read recently where there was such a malevolent and discomforting presence as the Wood.
So we have another Beauty and the Beast retelling – and while it could have been hard to follow ACOTAR for a fantasy I fell completely in love with this book. The Dragon takes one young woman every 10 years from the valley to serve him in his tower. Let’s be clear, the Dragon is a man, a wizard in fact. In return for service from these girls the Dragon does whatever he can to keep the Wood from encroaching on the towns beneath him. He fights the good fight, but he doesn’t always win against the Wood. Men are lost, livestock, whole villages are swallowed.
I admit I was more than a bit suspicious of the Dragon at first. Why must he take a girl for 10 years? On return they all claimed he doesn’t touch them but all the townspeople have their suspicions. Why is he such a jerk to poor Agnieszka at first? Agnieszka was trying so hard for a life she never thought she would have! I was actively rooting against a romance in the beginning between these two.
Then I totally fell for the Dragon. I loved the slow pace of this book. It took a while for Agnieszka to even like the Dragon let alone to love him – it was a fantastic slow burn. And while the romance is there and it was important, this book is about the magic and the evil and not about the romance. Agnieszka is a loyal friend, daughter, a student and basically all around bad ass. There were all kinds of twists I wasn’t expecting and most of all the Wood which basically gave me nightmares.
If you want an awesome standalone fantasy with a kick-ass heroine and some sexy romance read this! Then come back and tell me what you think. Definitely one of my favorites I’ve read this year and one I will be rereading.
Thank you Del Ray Spectra and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!
Also if you like fairy tale retellings as much as I do Kat Kennedy at Cuddlebuggery did this awesome post all about Beauty & the Beast retellings! I have to say I didn’t love Cruel Beauty as much as she did, but I am definitely adding the rest of these to my TBR!