Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ain't no dragin' in Uprooted, by Naomi Novik

New York: Del Rey, 2015
ASIN: B00KUQIU7O (read on Kindle)

“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.
I’ll cop to why I read this: I skimmed the summary, read the words “dragon” “girls he takes" and “human sacrifice” and was all, Ooooh. But it also sounded like Dealing with Dragons -- naturally I was in!  I was hoping for a cozy magical book of cozy magic and some adventure.  This is also why I’ve taken the lazy route and used the publisher review instead of writing my own.  I’m not 100% a bad reader...but maybe 80%, because I clearly stopped reading in depth after the first part sentence and missed the second part of the description, in which it clearly states that the dragon is not actually 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. (Publisher text)
WHATEVER. But omg you guys -- forgive Naomi Novik her lack of dragon.   Also me, for not being able to read, because it clearly states several times that there are no real dragons to be had.  I’m realizing I may not be what your English teach referred to as a reliable narrator (reader), but give me a second chance, mmmkay?  You’d hate to miss out on this one.

This book is so not even just that jacket flap...that’s just like the first three chapters of many chapters, and then it is all that and a bag of freshly baked hot biscuits.  I know, because I actually paid attention (after realizing I wasn’t, obvi).  It goes well beyond what is advertised and proved quite the fairy-tale adventure!  This book is so. so. awesome. I was not anticipating it, and it took me completely by surprise.   It’s not at all the book you think you’re going to read when you start off, but it is the fantasy novel I’ve been wanting to read for a while but hadn’t found until halfway through the book.  Another way to say that is that I was sad because it ended, and that’s a sign of a good book to me.  Another another way to say it is that it is magical, and I was enchanted (womp womp).  By now, you should know me well enough by now to not expect better than bad puns of me when I’m really delighted by something...

There’s a heck of a lot of character growth, a lot of empowerment, a lot of magic, but of a practical sort (nature! cleaning! also fashion!), zero actual dragons (stop rubbing it in those of you who can read good), some steamy scenes, action, adventure, romance, nature, empowerment, etc.  Basically, it’s like Graceling meets Fantasia meets a Grimm fairy tale in rural peasant-y Russia or somewhere Eastern European with just a slight touch of Dealing with Dragons.  It may make you want to try borscht (note: I still haven’t ever tried borscht).  Is this one for kids, as I initially thought it might be, given that I thought it would be like Dealing with Dragons? Probably not anyone younger than 15 or 16  if you’re not cool with them reading a sexy sex scene.  I’d say it’s probably mostly cool for mature teens, who will probably love this, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.  But if that worries you, you’ve been warned!  The rest of you pervs can read up (kidding - you real pervs are reading Outlander.  And loving it!).  


Natalie said...

So good right?!?! I finished this around Thanksgiving and loved it. The magic was very interesting and the take on Baba Yaga unexpected. : )

Xandy Brown said...

I did the SAME. Thought there were dragons, there were not. I loved it as well, so fab, although I did find the romance totes unnecessary.

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