Saturday, 26 December 2015
Review - Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Agnieszka lives in a small village in a deep valley, surrounded by mountains - and overshadowed by the Wood. Every ten years, the local sorceror, who is known as the Dragon, takes a girl from one of the villages in the valley. No one knows exactly what the Dragon does with the girls, but there are, of course, assumptions made. When each girl is done with her 10 years of service, it's not long before she is seeking life beyond the valley.
Agnieszka knows that she will never be chosen - that there's nothing really special about her. Her best friend Kasia however, is beautiful and clever and everyone knows that when the time comes, she is the one the Dragon will take.
Well. No, of course not. It turns out that Agnieszka is a witch, although it takes the Dragon an inordinate amount of time to realise that her magic doesn't work like his - or like any kind of magic he's seen.
But there are bigger concerns and Agnieszka and the Dragon must learn to work together, if they are going to save the valley from the rotten heart of the wood ...
Uprooted has a great, dark Grimm feel to it, and the story plays out at a breathless pace as Agnieszka works out how to come into her own as a witch, and also how to stand up against grumpy and hidebound wizards.
The best part for me? The heart of the whole thing though? Is the deep and abiding friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia that endures through all kinds of awful hardships. It's a warming centre to a story that has very, very dark roots.
Great, great stuff.