Almost done with the chapter rewrite! *happy dance* Guess I need to celebrate by sharing another book I’ve read recently!
“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.
Oh man, oh man. What to say about this one? How about I read it one day, it was that good?
If you’re unfamiliar with Naomi Novik, for shame! Let’s correct this right now. Her main series is Temeraire, which is basically Hornblower meets dragons. Will admit that I’m not a big fan, but that’s mostly because she imitates the writing style of the time near perfectly…and I have immense difficulty with that period of writing. I read the first book and loved the concept, but got lost in the second.
But this one? I just could not put it down.
Uprooted is a fairy tale told in first person from the heroine’s POV. But unlike most fairy tales, she’s not the fairest, or the kindest, or the best at something: she’s a veritable Pig Pen. So it shocks everyone that she’s the one whisked away to serve the ten years. Including the Dragon. It seems the immortal wizard likes to look at pretty things, and so he can’t abide the fact that she can’t even cook a simple meal without staining her clothes.
And then she finds out the real reason why he had to choose her out of all the girls of her year.
I don’t want to spoil, but the resultant bickering and tension is hilariously cute, especially as the book and their relationship progresses.
Beyond the writing, what I really loved about this book was how the standard tropes were handled. The Dragon isn’t literal, it’s just a man who delivers a fate that feels similar if not as dire. We have the deep, dark Woods, but it’s not just the creatures you need to worry about. There’s a Prince Charming, but our heroine doesn’t fall for him (not a spoiler because it happens within the first few chapters so hush!). And our heroine doesn’t solve problems by being kind or good or just doing what she’s always done just at the right time, she has to think, reason, and then act. She has to face her fears and overcome challenges that she’s not prepared for.
Quite frankly, she’s a badass. And I love it.
I checked this out from the library, but after reading it, it’s on my wishlist for things I want to own. And I think I want a physical copy. It deserves the shelf space.