It has been a while since I have had time to sit down and read a nice book. Life has a funny way of getting in the way of the things that make life a bit better. Like reading fantasy.
Uprooted was a great novel to jump back in on. At the end of the day it is a story about being taken from an ordinary life and foisted into a harrowing situation that seems overwhelming. It is about the ways people grow into the roles that fate determines for them and how things that seem incomprehensible or terrifying at a distance are sometimes revealed to actually be beautiful or understandable when examined more closely. Though it did not check all of the boxes required of a five star review, there were a lot of things that worked well in this story.
The best part of the book for me was The Wood - the mysterious forest that sits on the outskirts of the valley in which the story takes place. To the townsfolk, it is a dark and mysterious force that creeps into their lives, at best corrupting individuals or livestock and at worst and taking over entire villages. The main character, Agnieska, is forced to confront The Wood head-on with the help of a powerful wizard known as The Dragon and her best friend Kasia.
Readers are kept in suspense as to the true nature of The Wood until the very end, at which point there is a grand reveal that shines a new light on the events of the previous four hundred pages. There is political intrigue, there are interesting relationships, and of course there is a healthy amount of magic. If I'm being honest, the plot alone carries this novel.
The characters themselves fall flat. Despite the entire book being written Agnieska's first person perspective (a perspective I have never been a fan of), there was no point in which her character felt... alive. This is true of many of the other characters as well, from her best friend Kasia to The Dragon himself. The strange cold distance a reader feels in the early pages of any story, before the characters come to life, never quite abates.
I'm happy to have read the story, since there are some really cool ideas contained within the pages (most of them related to The Wood itself), but it misses the mark for me in enough key places that I cannot give it more than four stars.