“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”
Naomi Novik | Uprooted
Over the last couple of months I have been in the perfect mood for fairy tales, I couldn’t possibly get enough of them. So this book fell into my hands at the perfect time: I was majorly stressed out and in dire need of magic, of a fairy tale that swept me off my feet. And yes, ‘Uprooted’ by Naomi Novik is such a book – and Gregory Maguire is right by referring to it as a ‘lost tale of Grimm newly come to light’. It is a book you might want to read over and over and get lost in its enchanting world forever.
“And I wasn’t old enough to be wise, so I loved her more, not less, because I knew she would be taken from me soon.”
So picture this: a village in a quiet valley, where people work hard to secure their living. In their proximity, there looms an enchanted forest that seems to swallow people up that wander off to deeply into its midst. If they return, they are changed, terribly so. To protect themselves, they must pay a price: every ten years, a girl from the village has to be given to the Dragon, a powerful wizard guarding over the villagers and the wood. Agnieszka, one of the young girls being offered to him, fears he might take her best friend Kasia, because of her beauty, talent and intelligence. But when he picks Agnieszka instead, it marks the beginning of an adventure full of magic and danger.
This book is very close to my heart – it is so well crafted and features the right amount of darkness for it to resemble a tale right out of Grimm’s book full of tales. Everything about this book is absolutely enchanting: gripping story telling (I actually nearly missed the train station I was supposed to get off at), believable characters and a sort of magic that makes me think of old tales of witches so close to nature they seem to be entwined with it.
“Truth didn’t mean anything without someone to share it with; you could shout truth into the air forever, and spend your life doing it, if someone didn’t come and listen.”
The story explores central aspects such as friendship, loyalty, a hunger for power and the abuse of being in position of power, of loss and grief and of letting go. It is a story of a girl finding her true self by looking into the abyss of herself and that of the people she loves the most. And I tell you this: it is remarkably done. It gave me chills and had me sobbing at certain parts and it always had me at the edge of my seat with anticipation. I loved the concept of the wood growing sinister and striving to devour everything in its path, as well as the reason behind that.
“We’re meant to go. We’re not meant to stay forever.”
So if you love a dark and enchanting tale about magic and power and woods that bite back, if you love really good story telling and a complex story of someone finding herself even in darkest times, then I highly recommend this truly bewitching book.
Author: Naomi Novik
Press: Pan Books
Year of publication: 2015
[Genre: Fiction / Fantasy]