Unleashing the Magic: A Review of “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Uprooted book review- xoraslibrary

Table of Contents

Uprooted book info

Title: Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novack

Genre: Magical realism, Fantasy, Folklore fiction

Pages: 442 pages in uprooted

Authors website: Read more about her here

Uprooted Book Summary:

“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.

Who should read Uprooted?

You should read Uprooted if you love fantasies that involve folklore, magic, and an evil forest. 

This had elements of beauty and the beast, A girl is taken from her village to live in this tower with a magical witch who doesn’t communicate at all. 

Not that he can’t he just doesn’t want to. 

About the author

Naomi Novack is a really popular author known best for her Deathly Education series. I have not read them, Uprooted is the first book I read from her.

 And I feel like it was a great introduction because this book hit everything I love in a fantasy. 

The romance wasn’t too cringy or overplayed like most ya fantasies. 

There was a lot of magic and I enjoyed Agnieska’s process of figuring out how powerful she is. 

Is there romance in uprooted?

Yes, there is romance but it’s very much a slowbuilding romance. 

Theme 

I would say the theme is letting go of what you know. 

For Agnieska she had to let go of her home and family to go to the tower- because once the dragon picks you, you spend the next ten years of your life not ever seeing your family and that was super hard for her because her home was all she knew. 

 for the dragon- he is such a by-the-book kind of witch that had to learn how to let go of the fact that maybe there is another way of doing something. 

The prince couldn’t let go of his mom being trapped in that evil forest for twenty years and the fact that she may not be his mother anymore 

for the evil forest- It only became evil because the queen couldn’t let go of her sorrow and that turned into rage for many years. She couldn’t find peace. And all she wanted was revenge. 

Characters guide + list

Agnieska 

Lives with her parents and brothers in a town called Dvernik, 

Always messy and wild, running into the forest. 

Best friends with Kasia. 

The girl the Dragon picks instead

Kasia

The girl everyone in the village expects to be taken since she is the most attractive. 

Her whole life she was preparing for the moment when she would have to leave her home. 

The Dragon Aka the Wizard Aka Sarkan

He isn’t an actual dragon, It took me a while to realize that. I was like how is this dragon walking and talking? what am I missing? 

But then it became clear that was just a nickname. 

Every witch/wizard gets nicknamed by their council. 

The wizard is a by-the-book kind of person. He follows spells to the exact T. And he doesn’t like mess. So when he meets Agnieska, they clash immediately. Because they’re total opposites. 

The Wood Queen

The spirit that haunts the trees. We later find out that “She hadn’t known how to die at all” Pg 404

Her family and her people were all killed thousands of years ago and she took revenge by killing those who committed the act. 

In doing so, she posioned her own roots with hatred without knowing. She tried to go to sleep with her sister but because her roots were poisoned, she couldn’t sleep peacefully. 

My review 

At first, I couldn’t understand why the wizard was called “the dragon” I thought it had to be some kind of metaphor for how he lives in a high tower and watches over the village. 

Every ten years he goes into the village to pick the “prettiest” girl to live with him in the tower. 

I say “prettiest” because that’s how the town sees it since they don’t know the real reason he takes a girl every ten years once she’s eighteen. 

Naturally, they thought the worst 

And…accepted. It?

As you read further it’s such a mystery why he does this and why every girl he takes can’t ever leave the tower. After the ten years are up, all of them never return home. They travel to some other village or country but they never return home. 

So now that the ten years are up and he no longer needs the previous girl, he goes into the village to choose another and the people are preparing their daughters to be picked. 

Everyone thinks Kasia is going to be picked because she’s the most beautiful one there. 

Only one con of this book

This is one of the things that annoyed me, to be honest- The way they described the main character was as if she was ugly Betty. 

Or Quasimodo from the hunchback of notre dame

Like come on, 

All that only to say she’s not like the other girls, she doesn’t care for her appearance as much as the other girls. 

But to act like it was such a surprise for her to be picked, even the dragon was like “You’ll do”

Like HUH

Seeing Agnieska work on her magic was fun because she never knew she could do magic. I think she always did it without knowing. Like little things, her mother would say that happened. Like when she was younger, she would return from the forest with fresh berries, when it was in the dead of winter.

I also liked the dragon teaching her despite how he felt- he thought she was annoying and messy and it bothered him. 

But I guess he was also intrigued because he never interacted with the other girls- they never showed that they were capable of doing magic- he simply channeled through their magic. But to my understanding they never portrayed magic. 

This made it clear that he wasn’t taking the prettiest girls in the village to stay with him in his tower. He was only taking the ones who he could feel had the strongest magic that he could channel. 

And Agnieszka happened to be the one who contained the most magic. 

Why did he take a girl from the village every ten years?

Because the village is in the wood’s shadow, there is power deep in the valley “ a strangeness beyond mortal magic” that draws men in and plants roots in them. The wood drinks from that power and so did the villagers. 

The villagers never leave because they’re planted way too deep, even when they know there’s a possibility that their daughter might be taken they never leave. 

They drink from the same water that feeds the wood, the dragon hopes to find a connection and what he finds is that they hold magic and he channels through it to try to find a way to the wood and minimize its growth. 

Why did the dragon aka Sarkan need to channel the girl’s magic?

Their roots are stronger because they’re from the valley. 

He was channeling those girls to reach into the valley’s power and kept each girl in his tower until her roots withered and the channel closed

And usually, that channel lasted ten years. 

That’s why once the time was up they no longer felt tied to their home anymore and they were able to leave. 

What was the dragon’s role?

The dragon’s role was to stay in the tower and prevent the wood from growing even more in the other villages. And trying to find a way to stop its power. 

What does the wood do?

If someone is taken from the wood they’re not themselves anymore. They’re trapped in a tree and the wood uses their energy to create more evil. 

Would I recommend Upooted?

Yes absolutely, Uprooted by Naomi Novack is a unique fantasy that has such a beautiful ending reuniting a tortured soul with their loved one. 

And a man who never let himself get close finds love in the end. 

If you’re looking for a book to enchant you with it’s words then Uprooted is the one for you.

I loved this book so much that I want to read it again. 

And Naomi Novack is an author I would definitely read from again. 

Similar book to Uprooted

Naomi Novik wrote a similar style in a different book called the spinning sliver

Check out more of my reviews of other fantasy novels

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