Uprooted is a stand alone fantasy novel by Naomi Novik. This is the first book I've ever read by Novik, and I very much enjoyed it. Uprooted has a very traditional fairy tail feeling to it, complete with a dark forest, wizards, a far away kingdom, and a lowly peasant girl.
Every year, the great wizard, also known as the Dragon, chooses a girl from the valley he protects to serve him for ten years. The story follows the events of Agnieszka, a woodcutter's daughter who is chosen by Dragon and taken into servitude for the next decade.
The story has a slight Beauty and the Beast feel to it, as the Dragon is brash, rude, and impatient with Agnieszka, but as the story progresses we also see that he has kindness and goodness in him as well. He begins to teach Agnieszka how to perform magic once it is discovered she is a witch. Between the two of them, with their very different talents, they are able to cast extremely powerful spells together. I liked the way the author paced the progression of Agnieszka and the Dragon's relationship. It isn't the focus of the story but it's definitely powerful enough to draw you in.
The main conflict of Uprooted is the dark wood that is threatening to encroach on and take over the surrounding villages. Its evil corrupts people, livestock, and vegetation, and no one who gets captured by the wood lives to tell about it.
My only issue with this book is the final scenes where Agnieszka enters the wood with the intent to destroy it. I felt like the author did a horrible job explaining exactly how the wood came to be and why it was evil. The images were muddy and made no sense. I had absolutely no clue what Novik was trying to explain, As a reader, it was very confusing.
With its beautiful writing, touch of romance, and enthralling plot, I give Uprooted four stars.