Published by Del Rey on May 19, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Source: Amazon Vine
“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.
UPROOTED’S description likens the book to a Grimm fairy tale, and that’s a comparison I’d agree with. The scariest thing in the book isn’t a particular bad guy, but an entire forest: the Wood. It’s malevolent and corruptive, and if you venture inside, you won’t come out the same.
Agnieszka lives on the edge of the Wood. Her valley is protected by the Dragon, a great wizard who demands a girl every ten years to serve in his Tower as payment. Everyone expects that Kasia, beautiful and talented Kasia who’s prepared all her life for this indenture, will be taken. Agnieszka’s devastated about it, because Kasia’s her best friend. But when she herself is chosen, everything Agnieszka knows changes.
UPROOTED has an Eastern European folk tale feel, and since so many fantasies are set in pseudo-Western European countries, I appreciated that. I also liked how different types of magic were presented. Agnieszka’s chosen because she has magical ability, but when the Dragon tries to teach her his spells, they don’t work and tire her. Why? Because her magic is intuitive; she feels her way through spells rather than commands them.
I really liked the Wood in UPROOTED. It’s delightfully creepy, and I liked how the author slowly revealed information about it. The Wood was my favorite part of the book; I especially liked the ultimate reveal about its creation. Agnieszka’s stubbornness also endeared her to me, because I felt her attitude and reactions to events were quite realistic (and probably ones I’d have myself).
UPROOTED did have a couple of downsides for me. At times, I thought the pace was really slow, and my attention would wander while reading. I also wasn’t a fan of the relationship that develops between Agnieszka and the Dragon. Thankfully the romance isn’t in your face, but I just didn’t see why they were attracted to each other. Lastly, I wanted more character development for the Dragon and Kasia. A lot of development was put into the Wood; I wish even a bit of that had been given to the Dragon and Kasia, since they are important characters.
As far as I can tell, UPROOTED is a standalone, and I did like the way it ended. It’s always nice to get a complete story in a book, rather than have to wait 2-3 years or more. But at the same time, I wouldn’t mind a return to this world.
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