Uprooted – Naomi Novik

0ccd4e39d0804f3597261526977434f414f4141In the Valley, every ten years, the wizard called the Dragon takes a young woman to help him fight the malevolent power of the Wood. Agnieszka has grown up knowing that it will be her friend Kasia that will be chosen – she’s beautiful and brave, pretty much everything that Nieszka is not. But when the time comes, it’s Nieszka he choses.

Living with the Dragon is not what she expects – he’s chosen her because she has magic, but it’s not the orderly magic he has. She happens into things, and it seems to grow organically out of things around her. They find it’s a good complement to his magic, especially when Kasia is seized by wood Walkers, and the Dragon and Nieszka are able to rescue her – something that has never been done before. Unfortunately, this draws the attention of one of the kingdom’s princes, whose own mother was taken by the Wood. And so Nieszka is drawn into the politics of the Kingdom, and also must find a way to defeat the power of the Wood once and for all.

I really enjoyed this story. It’s a good twist on Beauty and the Beast (I don’t know if the author was trying to go there, but the setup at least owed much to that story). Nieszka’s journey is interesting to follow – the Wood is not the straightforward villain you might expect it to be. Great story.

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