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YA Fantasy Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik 

hardcopy courtesy of Pan/Macmillan

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.

 Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


* * * 
You know how sometimes you recognize a great book from the first few pages? Well, I opened this book and within the first few sentences I just knew Uprooted would be fabulous. And it was! Delicious, glorious, kick ass, sharp-tongued and really, really refreshing. I wanted to give this book a big hug and didn't want it to end.

I have never read Naomi Novik before and didn't quite know what to expect. I shouldn't have worried because I quite easily can compare her to Melina Marchetta and Catherynne M. Valente in the way she comes off youthful and and the same time very wise in her narration. Her characters have layers upon layers and there are no clear cut villains here. They are villains due to unfortunate circumstances, and when they get a chance for redemption, they take it.

The world-building and mythology here is based on late medieval Poland, and as I am familiar with many Eastern European fairytales, I enjoyed recognizing them in this book immensely. 

Agnieszka is a young peasant girl who grew up on the edge of the Wood - a malevolent forest which kills and contaminates everything it touches with its evil mind. The only force which can protect her valley is a wizard called Dragon, who lives in the tower and watches over them so he can intervene into frequent attacks from the Wood.

The price for his help is a tribute in various goods, but also every 10 years he takes one girl from the Valley as his servant. This year it's Agnieszka's age group turn, and everyone expects Dragon to take Kasia - the best, most talented and beautiful girl from the flock, and Agnieszka's best friend. To her surprise the taciturn, rude man chooses her.

Bewildered and lonely, Agnieszka is unprepared for the role of Dragon's personal servant. Kasia was the one who learned everything. Nieshka is dirty, chaotic, accident-prone and clueless... which drives OCD Dragon, controlled, orderly man, up the wall, until Nieshka tries to read a book she took from the library and starts a Summoning. 

It appears, his dirty servant is a budding witch, and by law, the wizard has to start teaching her the craft. What follows brings a huge smale on reader's face when these two such opposite characters clash. To make matters worse, Agnieszka's magic is wild like of the legendary Baba Jaga, and she goes by feel instead of following precise instructions. Did I mention an OCD wizard?! *grinning*

But the master and his apprentice don't have much time. The Wood goes onto offensive and starts a very twisted campaign to purge the Valley from humans once and for all. This book is dark, gory, beautifully descriptive, full of action, and Agnieszka simply kicks ass.

An amazing read, gorgeous ending, highly recommended. This is one of my highlights of the year.

* * *
Знаете, как иногда вы понимаете, что книга будет замечательной с пары первых страниц? Так вот, Вырванная с Корнем оказалась как раз такой книгой, причем, чтобы понять это мне хватило первых двух предложений. 

Шикарная, светлая, милая и безумно прекрасная сказка, построенная на польском фольклоре позднего средневековья, эта история рассказывает о героях маленького феодального государства, граничащего с Глухолесьем - злым лесом, который крадёт жизни поселенцев долины своим ядовитым волшебством.

Единственная защита от Глухолесья в долине это Дракон - волшебник, живущий в высокой башне и дающий отпор атакам тёмного волшебства. За свои услуги он принимает оброк в качестве разнообразных товаров и каждые десять лет выбирает себе юную девушку долины в прислуги.

Агнежка - крестьянская девушка, живущая в деревне на границе с Глухолесьем. Все девушки её возраста в Долине знают, что в этом году Дракон выберет новую служанку, и служанкой этой станет Кася - самая красивая, талантливая и умная девица поселенцев, которая приходится Нежке лучшей подругой. Однако забирает с собой Дракон ко всеобщему удивлению Агнежку.

Заброшенная в пустую башню, совершенно неподготовленная к служению Дракону,  Нежка не знает как готовить изысканные блюда, красиво одеваться или завести вежливую беседу. Дракон ворчлив, груб и страдает обсессивно-компульсивным расстройством. Нежка - неряшлива, бестолкова и жутко скучает по дому.  И так бы они и страдали в присутствии друг друга если бы не начала она читать книгу, одолженную в его библиотеке и случайно не заплела заклинание.

Оказывается Агнежка - ведьма, и по закону Дракон вынужден начать её обучать. Как вы понимаете, с такими разными характерами перья так и летят, и читателю только и остаётся смеяться. 

Однако обучение юной ведьмочки быстро обрывается, так как Глухолесье начинает сложную атаку на жителей долины, и Дракону и его подмастерью понадобятся вся их смекалка и умение, чтобы его остановить и порознь и вместе.

Книга неожиданно брутальная, кровавая, но очень завораживающая. Наоми Новик, с которой до этого я была незнакома, напоминает мне Кэтрин М. Валент и Мелину Марчетту, так как слог её умудряется быть молодым и в то же время мудрым, характеры многосложны, а злодеи выбирают свой путь в силу обстоятельств, и готовы с него свернуть, если им дан шанс прощения и искупления грехов.

Читайте, ибо надо.

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