Book Review: “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Break the norm

What a story, what a concept. I had not come across Polish folklore & mythology before and this book is mind-blowing in so many ways that I am unsure where to begin.

I read this book as part of a bookclub and I am so glad that we landed on this one! I pride myself in being able to read anything and so this one presented a big challenge because there are aspects of this book which I found very unsettling, nerve-wrecking and downright scary. I can’t handle horror and I found the supernatural element in this book really unnerving.

I didn’t know that here was a protagonist waiting for me to discover her so that she could take me on a journey that tested my resolve, my loyalties, my love for my family and the greater good. Novik built a world inside this book which wove it’s way into my conscience and into my heart. The bond of friendship, the conflicting emotions between loyalty to your loved ones and self-love were explored in a way that Agnieszka’s struggle became my own, her plight and journey became mine. Very few books can get ahold on my mind in such a way. Despite my fear of the unknown and the “truth” of the Wood, the magic in this book brought my reality to a halt.

Uprooted is a book that opens doors to a world that has passion singed through the pages, mix in some magic and loyalty, and I was hooked. In our ‘real’ world, I struggle with the lack of kindness, heightened cruelty and inconsideration, so a book like Uprooted caught me unawares because it contains deep intriguing elements of courage, sacrifice, revenge and secrets. I didn’t realise I was waiting to discover a protagonist of depth that matches and reflects my own choices. I didn’t realise that the corruption in Agnieszka’s world would reflect the corruption in our own one and create parallels between the real and the imagined.

There were several aspects of the book that left me baffled and I was pondering on them for some time after. The story resided with me for several days. For example, the corruption that emanated in the Wood. I wondered unless removed from the Wood within a few days (in the case of Kasia), to purge the corruption, I am unsure what would be needed to end the root of it all. Agnieszka succeeds in this because she allows another path to form so that many things can be saved, even the corrupted ones, despite centuries of hatred seeping & submerging in the Wood. She realised the Wood needed forgiveness, after all the multitude years of hatred, revenge and unkindness.

It made me realise how ‘by the book’ everyone tends to be , characters in the book and in life, apart from Agnieszka. How everyone just accepted and followed the hand they were dealt, regardless of what they wanted – a reflection of our own lives in some ways. That is why Agnieszka is so refreshing to discover, the one who goes against the tide, not on purpose but because there is no other viable option for her.

I do believe that I fell in love with the book due to the relationship between Agnieszka and the Dragon, what a pair they make! Two complete opposites, that create a much needed balance. The intrigue that I felt kept me grounded.
Uprooted does not cause havoc in the lives of the characters alone, but also the reader. I was Uprooted and transported to a time where magic lives. Truly recommend this book, let us be uprooted from our own norms, in which we are so comfortable. Let Novik take you on a journey that is likely to change you and your perspective.

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