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Book Review| Uprooted by Naomi Novi

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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.

I received this book from my OTSP Secret Sister, though I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now. It’s always caught my eye when I walked into a bookstore, but I can be choosy when it comes to my fantasy books. I always heard great things about it, though, and now I know why. It took me a few days to really get into, but once school ended, I was really able to give myself to the book completely.


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The Woods: Novik uses The Woods in the common archetypal way: they’re the source of evil, a place where people go in but don’t come back out. Within literature, forests are places of the unknown. Nobody knows the origins of Novik’s Woods, or why the woods are magical. Woods are usually a place of transformation, which is a recurring theme between many different characters.
The “unknown” part of this can also be attributed to The Dragon, since the townsfolk know little to nothing about it.

Agnieszka: Taken by The Dragon, we soon find out she’s actually a witch, but she finds the spells The Dragon tries to teach her just don’t fit well with her. She’s your typical “main character” of our time; she isn’t beautiful or pretty, she’s constantly dirty; she doesn’t find herself “special”; she defies The Dragon often and can be pretty temperamental. However, being our main character, she easily fits into The Hero archetype, specifically that of The Initiate.

The Dragon: A powerful magician whose job is to protect many towns and provinces, his dislike for Agnieszka is immediate. He is constantly demeaning her; he scowls at her dirty clothes, yells at her when she can’t figure out a spell (and yells when she does), and he finds comfort in the orderly way magic is – until Agnieszka shows him otherwise. The best archetype I could find for him was the Evil Figure with the Ultimately Good Heart. We are introduced to The Dragon as a thief of young women, but the more we read, the more we learn about him.

Kasia: The ignored “chosen” girl, Kasia is constantly spoken about in high regards. Agnieszka finds her to be almost perfect; Kasia is braver, prettier, more talented, smarter – the list goes on. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER However, she’s captured by The Wood and is possessed by the evil within it. Before being taken by The Wood, she would fit more into the Platonic Ideal archetype. In fact, for most of the story she would. The only time she would fit into another archetype, The Creature of Nightmare, is when she’s possessed. The character who embodies the Creature of Nightmare throughout the book would be Queen Hannah/ The Wood-Queen.


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Uprooted was an enchanting novel filled with fascinating, complex characters, each one completely different from the next. The writing alone was spellbinding; each sentence pulled me deeper and deeper into the world Novik created. While there were a few city names I found difficult to pronounce, Novik kept the general world knowledge as a need-to-know basis. No map was needed, nor was a glossary. I did end up reading over the words used for spells rather than trying to sound them out; I know I would just butcher them, so I didn’t even bother.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, books that aren’t parts of trilogies, books with a hint of romance, complex characters and storylines that keep you questioning until the very end, I would highly recommend Uprooted.

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Book Review| The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

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After reading a full YA fantasy series, it was a relief to find this book at Barnes & Noble. I’d picked this up on Valentine’s Day, but wasn’t sure how far I would get into it before March 1st (the deadline before starting my first book club read). I actually finished it last night, but wasn’t able to start the review until just now. 

The Synopsis from Goodreads: 

When a young, enigmatic woman arrives in post-war Montreal, it is immediately clear that she is not who she claims to be. Her attempt to live out her life as Lily Azerov shatters as she disappears, leaving a new husband and baby daughter, and a host of unanswered questions. Who is she really and what happened to the young woman whose identity she has stolen? Why has she left and where did she go? It is left to the daughter she abandoned to find the answers to these questions as she searches for the mother she may never find or really know.

The book is written with three narrators; the real Lily Azerov (through passages in her diary), the false Lily Averov, and Ruth Kramer, “Lily’s” daughter. Ruth is the primary narrator throughout the book, but every so often a chapter is allotted to the two “Lily”s, The format was one of the main things I really enjoyed, because it allowed the reader the chance to connect with each of the women. 

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Emotions While Reading

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Any book written in the voice of a young girl with no mother is enough to make me cry. It may be the fact that I am extremely sensitive to the idea of my family no longer being there (I used to make myself cry when I was a child if I thought about my parents dying), but there was just something about Ruth that made me want to grab her up in my arms and whisk her away to a place where her mother existed. I, who have not a motherly bone in my body, wanted nothing more than to tuck her in and kiss her forehead, if only to show her how much comfort she was denied. 

Ruth’s family was always there for her, trying to make her feel as if she should not be ashamed or lonely without her mother, but she was. When you are deprived of something others have, you want that thing. Ruth had more love in her life than most of her friends did, with her aunt and uncle, their three sons, her two grandmothers and her father all very involved in her life, but she always felt that she was missing something. It wasn’t until her Grandmother Bella passed away did she realize just how much of an impact her family had on her life. It wasn’t until Ruth met her mother (when Ruth was an adult with three children) that she realized she didn’t need a mother, hadn’t needed a mother, because her family had made sure of that. She had three motherly figures in her life to make up for the one who hadn’t been there.

The question of morality throughout the book was sobering. The Imposter Bride was not a book I read and thought, “Oh my goodness, I absolutely loved it, I need to talk to somebody about this immediately!!1!!”, but was one that left a sense of content. Ruth’s mother, whose real name is Yanna, fights with herself for most of the story over the guilt of stealing another woman’s identity (and journal, and large, uncut diamond). Yanna’s question to her mother-in-law: “If the person is dead, is it still considered stealing?” Yanna’s departure from Ruth’s life was another question of morality; Yannah wanted to give Ruth the love and comfort she deserved, and knew she wouldn’t be the one to give it to her. Instead of continuing with her charade, Yanna left Ruth with a family who would raise her with complete love.

How I Felt After Reading

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I did give it 4 out of 5 stars, but I wasn’t “Wow’ed by it. It was a good story, and I definitely recommend it for those who like Historical Fiction, but it wasn’t one that I was head over heels over. By the end, I had been sucked into the story, but in writing this review, I’ve realized there was no part that made my heart race, made me smile, made me feel more than the usual book does. Yes, Ruth’s plight did make me want to save her, but that only lasts a chapter or two. 

My Rating: 4/5