Once opon a time...
For fans of: Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo, Nimona - Noelle Stevens
Blurb: 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 is a hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales by Naomi Novik, the author of the Temeraire series. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.
Cover: First I couldn't decide which edition I wanted, because they are all so pretty. Except for the original (?) cover (the yellow one) maybe. I liked this best, because of the simplicity and the colours. Btw, the German title is Das dunkle Herz des Waldes (= The Dark Heart of the Forest), which is not a direct translation. That would have sounded weird anyways, not like a fantasy novel, but rather a gardening book. So I'm okay with that translation, because it fits the book really well.
Content: It starts like a fairytale. A peaceful little village, a wizard who lives in a tower and an enchanted forest. If you are now thinking of fairies flying around and talking animals, you're entirely wrong. People don't just go in there. Every now and then someone vanishes into the Wood and is never seen again or comes back corrupted.
I already liked the first sentence: Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. The Dragon is actually the wizard, but he definitely has some dragon-like aspects to him. The first chapter already totally captivated me and I wish I had had the time to read it in one sitting.
SPOILERS BEGIN HERE!
Towards the end it got a bit boring, unfortunately. There is this big battle (I mean, that's inevitable in every High Fantasy novel) and it's drawn out over at least seventy pages or something and then the book isn't even over yet. The text could have been shortened here.
I also wasn't the biggest shipper of the Dragon and Agnieszka. During the first half of the book I was very sure, that she and Kasia would end up together. Instead it had to be the Dragon and I'm fine with it, but I felt zero chemistry.
SPOILERS END HERE!
Writing Style: The book itself has very small and very tight writing, which is why it took me forever to finish one chapter. While Naomi Novik can't have an influence on the first one, I'm sure she had some sort of influence on the length of chapters. I mean, the publisher probably had a word on that too, but she wrote it.
The whole Story has this slavic touch to it, which I really liked. All the character's names, village names and even Baba Yaga is mentioned. I only think it's weird that all the place names sound very original and then there are places like Venezia or Namib. Was that really necessary? Naomi Novik, you did such a good job on the whole worldbuilding and then you got sloppy there?
Anyways, as I already mentioned, the writing has something of a fairytale. The author really knows how to tell an intrigueing story. There are plenty of shocking moments in here and it's very exciting until the very end. I will miss those characters!
My conclusion: A fairytale-like story that is definitely worth your time
My rating: 4/5 Buttons