(No Series)

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

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.

"They come and go like seasons, the winter that gives no thought to the spring."

I went into this one thinking it would be about a girl who was led to a man donned 'The Dragon', about her growth and journeys and adventures. Then I started thinking it would be about their relationship. I was wrong.

I found out it was a story of magic, about an ancient twist in the path that had gone horribly twisted, that it was up to a handful of characters to brave it out and try to set the paths straight again. The story isn't about the protagonist as much as it is about the larger picture looming in a horizon.

The story starts simply enough before it branches into unique complexity; she is chosen instead of Kasia, the beautiful one who everyone had always assumed would be taken instead. At first the reader will pause in confusion along with the protagonist and the villagers, but it eventually becomes clear why she must be the chosen, and then the story erupts from there.

Uprooted is one of those stories where the back blurb and the first quarter make it seem easier and simpler than it looks, but it's a deceptive surface covering something much deeper and more sinister. She doesn't stay in the castle, and the magic grows and grows to involve others, political struggles, kingdoms and heartbreaks, magic and battles, discovery and illusion.

The protagonist is fun at first because she's awkward, clumsy, a true tomboy who cares little for appearance. As her friend Kasia remarks, it's almost as if the magic inside her demands she dirties everything she wears, swearing one time that she even saw a branch reach out to soil her clothing when she was leaving the woods. The Dragon is definitely not a charming man - he is a reclusive, irritable wizard who has lost his hold on his own humanity while he battles to keep the humanity in the village from losing itself to the Wood.

The Wood is the biggest player for the story, a creatively woven and structured backbone that raises the story out of mediocre territory into richer, fertile imagination. There's violence and surprising twists, sadness and despair, but as with most dark fairy tales - light can exist at the end of these tunnels.

I applaud the author for her imagination - the story keeps getting more complex as it grows and it's not possible to guess all of the conclusions and wrap-ups. She writes differently - simply and easy to comprehend but not with elementary, stilted words. The pacing is sluggish sometimes, hence the four star rating, but it did plant itself firmly enough inside my reader zone that I couldn't help but continue following the trail.
A fantasy definitely worth reading.


Book Trailer:

   Book Quotes:

“If you don't want a man dead, don't bludgeon him over the head repeatedly.”

“What an unequaled gift for disaster you have.” 

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