Beautiful. That's the word I've been searching for. Uprooted is a beautiful book. Naomi Novik narrates the story of young Agnieszka, a constantly unkempt girl who to everyone's astonishment was chosen to live in the dreadful wizard's tower for 10 years as the price for his assistance against the evil Wood. Agnieszka imagined how desperate and empty her life was going to be, locked away from her family and her dear friend with the Dragon as her only company. What she would never imagine was that everything she thought of him was a lie based on fear and prejudice. That magic flew in her veins. That she would play a vital part in the kingdom's politics, that she would participate in the never ending war not only against their neighbors but also against the ancient Wood. The Wood that was calling for her. Aftel all, she was just the woodcutter's daughter. With an unequaled gift for disaster.
It sounds like a fairytale, doesn't it? With the witches and the haunted forest and the knights and the brave girl who is about to find out her destiny is a great one and will affect thousands of people? It seems so at first, partly because of Naomi Novik's spectacular writing. The world she created is so vivid and enchanting, you can smell the pines and feel the mud under your bare feet and the air crackling with magic, your stomach clenched with agony and fear, your heart hammering in your chest, and it takes tremendous effort to realize that you are not the one fighting the corruption in Polnya, you are just the reader, in the safety of your house,drinking your chocolate. And you couldn't be more disappointed.
But there was darkness in Uprooted that you don't encounter in most of the fairytales. There were brutal murders, desperation, hatred and rage, and the good guys didn't always win. There wasn't a Prince Charming, only a grumpy, sassy wizard who was irritated most of the times and he couldn't remember what being a human felt like. Thousands were slaughtered due to one man's certainty and ambition. And the wizards weren't good or evil, just opportunists, devoid of love. And Agnieszka? A flawed, stubborn girl with a good heart and iron will, unable to hate even her worst enemies, a dedicated friend and daughter, and a different kind of hope. Well that does sound like a fairytale after all.