With the blockbuster success of the Lord of the Rings series, the Wheel of Time saga and, most recently, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the fantasy genre has been steadily gaining in popularity for nearly a century. Are you ready to dive into a world of magic and adventure, but a bit hesitant to pick up an 800-page doorstopper with a hefty roster of characters? Then Naomi Novik, author of the best-selling Temeraire series, has the perfect summer fantasy for you in the spellbinding Uprooted.
Agnieszka is a bullheaded and accident-prone 17-year-old from a sleepy, vaguely Eastern European village that lies in the shadow of the mysterious and malevolent Wood. Grotesque creatures and horrors of all kinds creep from its depths to terrorize the villagers. Their sole protector is the Dragon—the realm’s most powerful sorcerer, who keeps the enchanted Wood at bay. All the Dragon asks in return is a harvest of sorts—a village girl to live in his tower for 10 years at a time. Usually, he chooses the most exceptional girl, but shockingly it is Agnieszka who draws the Dragon’s attention.
Although at first desperate to escape the gruff wizard, Agnieszka discovers a latent gift for spell casting, and when her improvised, earthy style of magic sparks the Dragon’s curiosity, an ember of friendship (or maybe something more?) begins to glow. Soon the two are sent on a deadly journey into the heart of the Wood itself in order to make their final stand.
With a foothold firmly in the fairy-tale tradition, Novik spins an enthralling story of the classic good-versus-evil variety, where magic, monsters and romance abound. Truly beautiful prose, inventive twists and a capable, tenacious heroine make this charmingly accessible fantasy shine.
This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.