Uprooted by Naomi Novik: Creepy, delightfully creepy! // Book Review

“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”

My summary:

A village lies at the edge of the corrupted Wood, whose malevolent presence forces its villagers to rely upon the wizard Dragon to protect them. In payment, he takes one girl from the village every ten years, and Agnieska is chosen as his next candidate.

This book is about Agnieska learning how to conquer the evils of the Wood.

***Fantasy, Adult, Young Adult

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This book legit scared me.

Why, you ask? Well, I will be the first to admit that I’m not the most sound when it comes to creepy books, but man was I spooked while reading this one. The sense of dread and fear of the unknown slowly yet surely impeded upon my being while I devoured this book at 2 in the morning, and I was positively drenched in goosebumps at one point.

Because for one thing, the mystery is the hook of this book. The author sows seeds of fear and doubt in your mind about whether characters are malicious villains or misguided souls, and I’m happy to say I rarely found answers. From Kasia, Marek, the Queen, to the Wood, I felt an empathy for every one of them even while I was scrambling to deduce their motives, and it was a guessing game that kept me continually intrigued by them.

Furthermore, I highly enjoyed the romance. I am sure there are (valid) rant reviews out there about how abusive the Dragon is, but I found him increasingly hilarious as the book went on. The fact that he never bends in his grumpy demeanor even in the face of his mistakes (which would usually irk me) made me laugh at how childish he was, and my interpretation of him was reaffirmed through Agnieska’s reaction to him as well.

As for the Agnieska herself, the author evolves this character from “messy and clumsy” to “wild and unrestrained,” and it was a perspective shift that I loved: Agnieska turns her supposed weaknesses into strengths, and that made her journey of empowerment and love all the more satisfying for me. Not to mention, her strong female friendship with Kasia was heart-warming to see as it further strengthened this character’s values.

Now as for a few negligible critiques, I wish there had been a gradual setup at the start of this story. I highly appreciated its buildup and momentum as Agnieska grew into a strong, confident, and self-aware heroine, but because her story kicks in only around the point that she meets the Dragon, their initial dynamic felt a tad jarring and confusing.

Similarly, the fact that Agnieska’s self-awareness does not extend as deeply to her family as it did to her lover or best friend made it appear as though she didn’t have a past. Agnieska reflects upon her sadness of being torn away from home only rarely (and her family were minor characters who did not contribute much to her evolution), and that made me think the author had missed a chunk of Agnieska’s foundation as a character.

Nitpciks aside, this book is a thrilling standalone with strong characters, decisive morals, creepy world-building, and a triumphant finish. It would have benefited from a stronger family element to round out Agnieska’s character, but it was otherwise a full and diverse meal that left me wholly satisfied in the end.

“But she hadn’t been able to take root. She’d remembered the wrong things, and forgotten too much. She’d remembered how to kill and how to hate, and she’d forgotten how to grow.”


Recommended? Absolutely!

I positively dreaded reading this book due to its hype, but I was tremendously surprised to find myself immersed in its atmosphere right off the bat. It is a very well-written standalone that sucked me in straightaway, and I had a hard time putting it down.

So if you enjoyed books like Circe by Madeline Miller (witch magic is very similar), Bear and the Nightingale (fear of the unknown in the woods), or Golem and the Jinni (nuanced hate to love romance between magical beings), I’d recommend for ages 15 and up.


Bottom line: Thrilling, atmospheric, cathartic

Man is this book satisfying! It continues to build its intrigue in a way that keeps you hungry, and the finale does not disappoint. In that I give this book a very strong 4.5 frogs as it is a fast-paced yet contemplative standalone left me utterly jazzed. ❤

Rating: 4.5/5 frogs

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24 Comments

    1. I’m so glad you agree! The atmosphere was truly creepy yet immersive, and I absolutely loved that. As you said, it’s not easy overcoming hype for a book, but this one thankfully did. 😀

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    1. Thank you love! Yes, that creepy atmosphere was specifically what made me fall head over heals for this book. 😉 It definitely has its weaknesses though, so I totally understand how it might not be for some people. Have you read the sequel btw?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review! I bought this one last year and keep meaning to read it. I’m curious how I’ll feel about the relationship between the Dragon and the MC, since I’ve heard mixed things about it but I still really want to read it. Thanks for putting it back on my radar!

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    1. Thank you! ❤ Ah yes, I'm not surprised at all to hear that there are mixed reviews on that relationship since it was borderline questionable to me at first, but I came to like it more and more as the book on. I hope you give it a chance! 😉

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  2. Wonderful review!! This is one of those books that I was so excited to read when it first released, but absolutely forgot about later. The characters sound so fascinating and I’m all about the spooky reads! I’m an absolute scaredy cat, but I love being scared by stories. Hehe. 😊

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  3. Cool! I still have this on the tbr pile and have been wary of reading it like you because of all the hype. But hearing you say how much you enjoyed it makes me much keener to get on and read it. Thank you for that!! Also, great review! 😀

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  4. Love this review! I didn’t know a lot about it but it’s been raved about for aaaaages. I like how the creepy atmosphere sounds like it was its own character- reminds me of The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski. Another one for the tbr! 😊

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  5. Oh wow, I wasn’t aware this book was THAT creepy! I have to admit I barely remembered what it was about but your review did serve to shake my memory a little bit. It makes sense now hahaha I love that it was able to slither its way into you and play on your own fears and anxieties in such a masterful way – only amazing authors are able to do this and I’m not surprised to hear Novik was the one to do it. To be fair, I’ve never read anything by her but her fame follows her everywhere so it’s hard not to believe the hype.
    I’m glad you enjoyed this book so much and I can’t wait to read it myself! 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much! And hehe it’s not super scary, but the tone IS rather haunting and paranoid at times, which is not necessarily the most cuddly feeling in the dark at 2 in the morning. 😂 But yes, it’s a fantastic book! I absolutely loved the atmosphere, so I would definitely recommend! ❤

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  6. I do believe I have this book on my TBR pile and I have been swinging on the fence- will I, won’t I? No doubt in my mind now, your fantastic review just made up my mind for me! Keep ’em coming (she says as if she doesn’t have enough of a backlog of books to get to 😀 )

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  7. I’m so glad this was spooky and such a thrilling standalone. Glad to hear the characters were so strong as well and I’m curious about the dragon as a love interest. Looking forward to checking this out. Wonderful review!

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