Uprooted - Naomi Novik *An ARC was provided by Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.*

What can I say about Uprooted that hasn't already been said? When this little gem finally caught my attention, I was already late to the party. All of the positive reviews were already flooding in and I remember thinking: Whaaa?!?? Where did that come from? How did I miss this?! You've probably all heard about how it's a story worthy of even the most classic fairytales. How there's this swoon-worthy slow-burn romance. How the villain here is The Wood, an oppressive, faceless presence that corrupts everything it touches and chills you to the bone. You've also probably heard that there's a dragon, but he's actually a man. A wizard, in fact, who keeps the villagers safe from (dun, dun, duuunnn) The Wood. Ok. So if you've all heard about all that stuff, what are we going to talk about here? Well, I'm going to try to gush over discuss aspects of Uprooted that you might not have heard about. Spoiler-free of course ;)

A simple glance at Uprooted (GORGEOUS) book jacket will tell you that The Dragon protects the villagers from The Wood, but at a price. He takes one girl from the village every ten years. Naturally, the Dragon chooses our wonderful protagonist Agnieszka, as a surprise to everyone, including Agnieszka herself. Soon, she's thrown into a world of magic, danger and death and she is changed beyond imagination. I took to Agnieszka straight away. She can come off a bit unassuming at first, but she's loyal to a fault, strong when she needs to be and wickedly adaptable. She isn't the perfect, pretty MC we see too often in YA fiction, but something else altogether. Ironically, the perfect, pretty one is Agnieszka's best friend: Kasia and I have to be honest, their friendship was one of my favorite parts of this book. Agnieszka and Kasia are true friends, like the ones we all had growing up. They have so much love and devotion for one another. I thought was beautiful to see two girls with a friendship like that in YA, without it being tainted by a love-triangle or anything. These ladies might just have the best friendship I've ever read about in a loooong time.

Then of course, there's The Dragon. The Dragon is kind of a jerk sometimes. Ok, a lot of the time. But damn if he isn't fascinating as hell! I couldn't get enough of him. He's wise, powerful and stubborn as they come but it all worked for me. There's one part of the story where Agnieszka sets off on her own adventure, so we don't get to see as much of him and I missed his presence sorely. The romance that develops is, as you've heard a very slow burn. I would add that it's imperfect, messy and even inconvenient at times, but boy oh boy, the chemistry is through the roof! It even avoids being the clich├ęd kind of all-consuming romance that changes the characters involved and makes them forget their motives. Colour me impressed!

Most of all though, I want to gush about THE MAGIC at play here. The magical system is incantation based, but it has a certain fluidity to it; it's flexible and adaptable. While certain characters have a more rigid approach, others make use of it by instinct and feeling. It seems as though, if the intent is clear, the magic finds a way. It's not an overly-complicated system, but I was blown away by how it all came together, so nuanced and imaginative. There are spells and potions, magical books and swords. Incantations that can be spoken, imagined, even sung! I couldn't get enough and my only complaint is that Uprooted is a standalone so I won't get to bask in it's magic throughout multiple books. I guess I'll just have to reread it again and again. And again and again...

Bottom line: Uprooted is a magical, enchanting and fresh take on the classic fairytale genre. The characters are multi-faceted and never quite what they first seem, which made them all a joy to unravel. Fans of magic, fantasy, and fairytales alike should definitely check this one out - if you haven't done so already. And if you have, well please feel free to gush with me :)

This review was previously featured on my blog: Photobucket