My sister suggested we read ‘Uprooted’ for our book club. Initially, I was sceptical about it as the book is fantasy fiction with dark themes and dark themes are not my topmost enjoyable reads. However, I decided to give it a go and as the book cover reminded me of Beauty and the Beast (one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, I know), it was with some interest I picked up the book.
Right from the first chapter, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself getting engrossed in the book. Any book that captures my attention straight away has promising prospects for me, and I knew I was in for a treat. It took me 3 days to finish the book because I struggled to put it down! It’s about the journey of a young girl, who upon being summoned to serve her time with an ageless wizard, comes face to face with her potential and rids her village (and by extension, her country) of the evil that’s been in existence for decades.
Uprooted is based on Polish legends and magic and nature are intertwined with each other. I look at trees as a harmless source of life and yet, it’s not quite as simple as that. There are positive and negative elements in both magic and nature, which goes to show the duality of things in life. There is both light and darkness and what you choose to focus on. In the end, nature will surpass us because human politics cannot outwit the law of nature.
There are various themes that the book explores. They range from friendship, courage, hope, loyalty, to misunderstanding, challenging accepted norms, trust, and revenge. The book promotes the idea of not just blindly following societal norms and instead, to discover your truth. In the journey that the main character embarks upon, albeit unwillingly, she discovers her own place in this world and she isn’t afraid to follow her instincts. Breaking out against the mould takes strength of character and courage. There is a major discord between what’s right and what’s fair; it’s about the fight between the greater good and personal desire.
The story makes parallels to our daily lives. Misunderstandings are rife and through the story, it’s shown just how destructive they can be. You then also see the steps taken to remove the misunderstanding; by making the effort to understand the root cause and placing yourself in the other person’s shoes (in this book, quite literally). The author talks about ‘corruption’ which takes on a whole another meaning. It’s about how corruption can spread if immediate steps are not taken to remove it and if it’s let to spread, then it will destroy souls, and coming back from a corrupted soul is near enough impossible. But, the thread of hope running through the veins of the heroine and her insistence on fighting till the end keeps us from falling into despair.
All these themes are explored through a fascinating and gripping storyline. Uprooted is definitely worth a read (although don’t be surprised if you go back for more) and it may just have changed my perception of supernatural/fantasy fiction for the better.
One thought on “Book Review: ‘Uprooted’ by Naomi Novik”
Hello Calpurnia Sycamore,
Having read ‘Uprooted’ myself, I’d like to thank you for writing such an open-minded review to the novel. I especially like the fact that you don’t normally read books from this genre but gave it a go and were pleasantly surprised. You’ve captured the layers of the novel really well, and the fact that you drew so many parallels to ‘real’ life and today’s society does you credit as a reader! I feel that when an author manages to capture your attention and draws you into a new genre, they’ve definitely done their job well!