Agnieszka’s village lies on the edge of a malevolent forest, where monstrous things often emerge from the trees to kill or spread the taint of evil. But Nieshka is more frightened of the mysterious Dragon, a wizard who selects girls of her age to live with him in his tower for 10 years. And she is the next to be chosen.

“A heaviness lingered in the air of the castle, that terrible pressure. The Wood was still here, somehow.”

It is the Dragon who keeps the Wood at bay. But the Wood is always fighting back. Even as Nieshka discovers her own abilities, the taint of the Wood threatens to spread even further.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

A magical girl who is discovered by a mysterious wizard living in a castle on the edge of a dark and foreboding forest. A perfect recipe for a fantastic fantasy!

Rating (5 stars)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik exceeded my expectations. I assumed this would be a rather straightforward fantasy tale of good and evil, the ones I enjoy, but without much distinguishing qualities. Instead, I was overwhelmed by the sheer ability Novik has to put emotions onto a page.

The creeping malevolence of the forest always lingered in the background of scenes, reminding the reader of the stakes involved. Nieshka’s struggles with her magic, along with the defiance and uncertainty she feels about her role is realistic. Even people who are set up as antagonists prove to have deeper motives. I loved how the nature of truth is depicted as both beautiful and frightening.

Unsettling in places, heartbreaking in others and ultimately satisfying, Uprooted is not to be missed.