Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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Macmillan, 2015. ISBN 9781447294139
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Fantasy. This was a stunning read, worthy of all the awards and nominations that it has been given (Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel, 2016, Nebula Award for Best Novel, 2015, Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction, 2015). Agnieszka loves her quiet valley home which is bordered by an evil Wood that can swallow people or turn them mad. The village and valley is shielded by the Dragon, a wizard, who in return for his protection takes a village girl every ten years to serve him. When the girls return to the village they are changed forever and no longer want to stay in the valley. The time of choosing is fast approaching and everyone expects that Agnieszka's beautiful friend Kasia will be selected, but no one can really predict who the Dragon will take and it is not Kasia that he finally chooses.
Novik has written a beautifully imaginative story loosely based on European folklore. Agnieszka is a wonderful heroine who gradually learns of her magical powers as a witch. Together with Sarkan, the Dragon wizard, she faces the corrupted Tree woman who is determined to take over their world. There are sorcerous battles, magic summonings and frightening heart-trees that can absorb people into their trunk and limbs that keep the reader breathless with suspense. A touch of romance between the unlikely pair - the cranky Dragon and untidy Agnieszka add to the interest in the story and the enduring friendship between Agnieszka and her friend Kasia that all make for a very engrossing fantasy novel.
I loved this story from the author of the Temeraire series. It is sure to please lovers of high fantasy and fans of Robin Hobb, Trudi Cavavan and Juliet Marillier.
Pat Pledger