Published: May 2015
Published: May 2015
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, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood's powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost 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 no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.
I LOVED this book! It was an amazing read, including all the things I adore: great, rounded characters; a rich plot; a very creepy villain; folk and fairy tale influences; and MAGIC. I will do my best to make this review as coherent and sensible as I can, but be warned, I am likely to fail miserably. So please don't hold my ramblings against me.
Uprooted is narrated by our main character, Agnieszka, and wow! was she a great character. I absolutely loved her to bits! She was just so adorable and open and real that I couldn't help but totally adore her from beginning to end. Agnieszka grew up in the shadow of her best friend, Kasia, whom everyone thinks will be the next girl chosen by the Dragon. Agnieszka and Kasia are exact opposites - where the latter is graceful and perfectly capable of handling a household, the other is a total klutz and can manage to destroy most everything that comes in her vicinity - but they still manage to be best friends in spite of everything. Their relationship was definitely one of my favourite elements in the book. I usually find it really hard to find good, believable friendships in books, especially between girl friends. But Kasia and Agnieszka's friendship was just that. It wasn't perfect and they had some issues to work out, but just because of that it was real. With all their problems and issues to work out, they still manage to be there for each other in the toughest of times, (literally) putting their lives on the line for one another. They both change a lot throughout the book, but each of them manages to accept the other for who she really is, and not just who she should be in the eyes of everyone else.
Both their lives are shaped by the constant presence of the other two big characters in the book. The Dragon is a very difficult character to like. All his years living alone and the difficulty of constantly battling the Wood have made him very hard on himself and others, and not at all open to human contact. And of course his perfectly ordered life is set to be completely destroyed by Agnieszka's arrival. I really enjoyed watching their relationship develop, and I did get to like the Dragon more as the story unfolded. I particularly enjoyed his dry humour, and found myself giggling more than once, though I'm fairly sure he wouldn't have approved of this.
And then there's the Wood. Now, this was an UBER-CREEPY enemy to be facing. The trees are alive, and they are out to get the rest of the world, turning people insane and KILLING EVERYONE! It was awesome and terrifying at the same time, and definitely one of the best antagonists I have found in a book so far this year. The Wood actually has a plan to kill all humans, and is very efficient in applying it. I was surprised by a few developments, and that was a really nice feeling.
The only thing that didn't really agree with me was the writing style. Don't get me wrong, I really liked the author's way of describing scenes in great detail, so much so that most of the time I could actually see the scene in front of me. But sometimes, the level of detail was just too much, and the story felt a lot slower than it should have. It was still great to read, but it just seemed to me like it took me forever to get to anywhere in the book.
So, for me, Uprooted was almost perfect, and definitely one of my favourite reads this year. I adored the characters and loved the plot, even though I did have a few issues with the style and pace. I will be f
orcing everyone to read it highly recommending this book to anyone who likes fantasy with a healthy dose of magic and a nightmarish enemy.