Uprooted by Naomi Novik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Uprooted is a twisted fairy tale. It’s a romance-fantasy novel. It’s a horror story. It’s a swords-and-sorcery fantasy epic. Uprooted is somehow all of these things, telling a wonderfully intriguing fantasy story that builds and builds, and more importantly, satisfyingly concludes, within 350 pages.

The story starts off a bit slow, and first-person narration always takes a bit for me to get used to. Agnieskha isn’t a typical fantasy hero; reluctant may even be too strong a word, but once we get over her awkward pragmatism and she begins learning how to cast spells her own way, we can’t help but root for her (pun intended). The way Novik describes spellcasting in this world is sublime, evoking a beautiful symphony of poetry, music, and emotion.

The book effortlessly bounds between genres in relatively short time, giving us breathtaking romance, character-driven political intrigue, exciting chase sequences, dramatic battles, and exhilarating moments of action-horror that reminded me of Aliens in all the right ways.

And then there’s The Wood. Never have I felt such fear and terror of this world’s uniquely antagonistic location. The Wood is a malevolent force with its own agenda, minions, and abilities, and discovering all its reasoning and intentions as the plot unfurls is incredibly rewarding. If you can get past the admittedly slow, fairytale-like start, you’ll find a worthy fantasy story that refreshingly doesn’t take thousands of pages to unfurl.

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