Published: May 2015 by Del Ray
Format reviewed: Hardback, 438 pages
Available: Del Ray (print and electronic) ~ Abbey’s ~ Amazon ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Dymocks ~ Kobo
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows–everyone knows–that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
I adore Beauty and the Beast retellings, so when I heard about Uprooted I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Now that I’ve read it, I can say it’s not so much a retelling as it is influenced by that particular fair ytale. And I loved it all the more for that.
This is a book that is difficult to review without spoilers because the plot twists and turns so much. It might not be a direct retelling of Beauty and the Beast but it does an excellent job of keeping a fairy tale feel. Anything can and does happen. Which is not to say that things happen randomly; there’s a definite logic and actions have consequences. Often, they are dark consequences. This is, after all, a fairy tale. While there is a naivety and sweetness to the story, it is by no means light.
It is an epic tale where kingdoms are threatened, armies battle and wizards duel. But while the stakes grow progressively higher, it always manages to maintain an intimate feeling. This is largely due to Agnieszka. I found her very easy to relate to. She’s not the most beautiful girl around. She’s not even the most intelligent–her smarts don’t come from books but from a connection to the present, to people and place. She cares about people and she loves her home wholeheartedly.
In fact, she reminded me a lot of Elizabeth Bennett, and Uprooted owes just as much to Pride and Prejudice as it does to Beauty and the Beast. This struck me as a very conscious influence and fans of P&P are sure to catch a few references along the way.
As with P&P, there’s romance, but sisterhood also plays an important part. Kasia is not Agnieszka’s sister by blood, but is definitely a sister by choice, and their relationship is a crucial motivator.
There was so much I loved about this book and I had terrible trouble putting it down. I’m a little bit sad I have to return it to the library and will be acquiring my own copy. It is definitely a contender for my favourite book of 2015. Thank you to Renay of Ladybusiness for recommending it.