Rating: 4.5 Stars ★★★★☆
Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.
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 was such a great read. I loved the fairy-tale-like qualities of it, I loved the setting, but most of all, I adored the characters. They were amazing.
Agnieszka grew up surrounded by dangerous magical woods all her life and she knows to not go into the trees. However, most of the time she is preoccupied with something else entirely: that her friend Kasia will be taken by the Dragon and she’ll never see her again.
Instead, she gets chosen and soon lives with a hundreds of years old wizard in his tower. He’s obsessed by cleanliness, she manages to get dirty by just walking down the stairs. He tries to teach her magic, but she doesn’t respond well to the rigid style of it, preferring her own, wilder sort of magic.
The Dragon hissed under his breath with annoyance: how dare a chimaera inconvenience him, coming out of season. For my part, I didn’t understand in the least why a chimaera would have a season; surely it was a magic beast, and could do as it pleased?
The relationship between Agnieszka and the Dragon is great. I loved their banter and how they slowly come together despite their differences. The romance angle, well… it was sweet but I would have preferred it without one. For me, they would have worked better as friends. Ah well.
I also loved how close Agnieszka and Kasia are. It’s not an uncomplicated relationship. There’s rivalry and jealousy between them but in the end it’s clear that both would do anything for the other. It’s always great to read about healthy female relationships.
That was the end of the story: no one went into the Wood and came out again, at least not whole and themselves. Sometimes they came out blind and screaming, sometimes they came out twisted and so misshapen they couldn’t be recogniuzed; and worst of all sometimes they came out with their own faces but murder behind them, something gone dreadfully wrong within.
The setting’s great as well. It has an eastern european fairy-tale flavour to it. The woods are utterly creepy. In the beginning I thought it would just be your run of the mill dangerous wood, but no. It takes people and changes them and then, sometimes, sends them back to hurt the ones they care about. It’s a truly evil wood.
What a beautiful fairy-tale full of great characters.